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Man’s family charges ‘overkill’ in cop shooting

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Man brandishing large knives suffered nine gunshot wounds

Copyright © 2013 Albuquerque Journal

A 66-year-old man shot and killed by Albuquerque police earlier this month suffered nine gunshot wounds, with as many as six of the bullets going through the back of his body, according to the autopsy report provided by his family.

The number and location of gunshot wounds that medical investigators found in Vincent Wood’s body have prompted the Vietnam veteran’s family to accuse the police of “overkill,” and they wonder why officers didn’t wait just a little while longer for the arrival of an officer trained in de-escalation techniques.

Wood, who his family said was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, was shot July 5 by two Albuquerque Police Department officers while brandishing two large knives at them in a gas station parking lot in the Northeast part of the city.

“It’s a lot worse than I could have imagined,” said Michael Allen, Wood’s half brother, about reading the autopsy report. “To me, it sounds like overkill.”

The autopsy report, which was completed July 18 by the state Office of the Medical Investigator and will likely be released publicly today, details the nine gunshot wounds that Wood suffered when he was killed at the parking lot.

Woods suffered gunshot wounds to his upper right chest, lower left chest, left stomach, penis, lower back, left buttock and upper left arm, in addition to two to his left forearm.

Six of the bullets’ trajectories are listed as “back to front,” according to the autopsy report. Those include the wounds to his lower left chest, lower back, buttock and the arm wounds.

The report gave no indication about the order that the gunshots could have struck Wood, and it noted that, possibly, one or more of the bullets that struck Wood in the left arm could have re-entered in Wood’s chest or abdomen.

Police Chief Ray Schultz told reporters shortly after the shooting that officers fired nine shots at the man. Schultz also described Wood as about 6-feet, 2-inches tall.

However, the autopsy report said Wood stands at around 5 feet, 7 inches.

Medical investigators also determined that Wood must have been at least 2 feet away from officers when they shot him, noting the lack of soot and gunpowder on his body. Witnesses corroborate that, having told police that Wood was between 4 and 6 feet from officers when they shot him.

On July 5, officers responded to a shopping center in the 4600 block of San Mateo NE, north of Montgomery, just before 7:40 p.m., when a security guard there called to report that Wood was threatening two kids with two “big ol’ butcher knives.”

Two officers responded quickly to the scene, in addition to an officer who is part of the APD Crisis Intervention Team.

Officers found Wood, armed with the knives, in a nearby Circle K gas station parking lot. Wood approached rookie APD officer Jeff Bludworth, Schultz said, and continued trying to stab him until Bludworth and fellow officer Katherine Wright shot and killed him.

About a minute passed from the time Bludworth arrived in the parking lot and when Wood was shot, Schultz said.

Considering that a Crisis Intervention officer was arriving just as Wood was shot, Allen, Wood’s brother, questioned why police didn’t wait a moment or two longer to allow that officer to try and talk Wood down.

“… This all went down in 60 seconds or so,” Allen told the Journal on Wednesday. “They couldn’t have just waited a bit longer for the Crisis Intervention officer to get there?”

Police declined to comment on Wood’s family’s criticism on Wednesday evening. An employee with the state medical investigator said police hadn’t yet received a copy of the report, but would likely see it today.

However, Schultz said at the news conference following the shooting that Wood had brandished knives at police officers, including APD officers, during previous incidents.

According to online court records, Wood has faced domestic violence, disorderly conduct, battery on a health-care worker and robbery charges in Albuquerque since 2006. However, charges were dismissed in all but the disorderly conduct and domestic violence charges, from 2007 and 2006, respectively.