Deputy interviews, video detail fatal shooting of Santa Fe man

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Martinez told investigators he stopped firing at Nathan Roybal once the 32-year-old dropped his gun and ran in the opposite direction. Cpl. Chris Zook and Deputy Leonardo Guzman kept firing until Roybal fell face first to the ground.

Dash camera footage shows Nathan Roybal wave a gun at Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies before he was fatally shot on June 23 in Santa Fe. (Source: New Mexico State Police)

“There were multiple shots after he was running, but they weren’t mine. I fired a few and stopped when he got out of my view,” Martinez told New Mexico State Police. Zook told them Roybal “was running away from us and I know I fired … three, maybe four rounds.”

Guzman and Zook both said they thought Roybal had fired at them and still had a gun in his hand. Neither turned out to be true.

Records, interviews and dash camera video released recently by State Police shed light on the shooting that left Roybal dead on June 23 in Santa Fe. The use-of-force incident, which is being investigated by State Police, was one of two fatal shootings by SFSO deputies and the fourth person shot by authorities in the Santa Fe area over a two-week period.

Dash camera video shows deputies surround a pickup truck with Roybal inside before he waves a gun at them out the window and they open fire. Roybal gets out of the truck, drops the gun, and runs away as the deputies continue shooting.

Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Juan Rios would not answer questions about the shooting.

“As this officer-involved shooting remains an open investigation at state police and as an internal affairs inquiry at the sheriff’s office we will have no comment at this time,” he said.

During a taped interview with State Police investigators, Guzman said he was trying to find Roybal after an incident earlier in the day when Roybal tried to back his truck into deputies and fled.

Soon after their shift began, Guzman and Martinez found themselves chasing Roybal as he drove erratically, sometimes in reverse. Martinez said Roybal’s behavior leading up to that point concerned him.

“I mean, majority of these guys are mentally ill, mentally unstable or they’re under the influence,” Martinez said.

He later added, “This guy has now become a danger to society the way he’s acting… this guy’s going to end up hurting somebody … and he needed to be stopped. He needed to be caught and placed in jail where he’s safe and everybody else is safe.”

Martinez said that when Roybal parked and waved a gun at them, he was the first to pull the trigger. After the first volley of gunfire, Martinez said Roybal got out of the truck with a gun in his hand.

“I shot a few more rounds at him, I see the gun drop and he takes off running,” he told investigators. “… Then I continued hearing shots fired from Guzman and Zook, I’m assuming.”

Both Guzman and Zook told investigators they thought Roybal had shot at them before they opened fire. Neither remembered how many shots they fired during the first or second volley.

“I still perceived him as a threat, he did have a gun, so I continued to fire – he was running – until he fell to the ground,” Zook said. Guzman told investigators, “I kept on shooting, once the threat was done, that’s when I stopped… I thought he still had the handgun.”

Guzman said he saw the gun lying near the truck after Roybal was down. State Police investigators asked Guzman if his gun had any malfunctions during the incident. He said no.

“It actually worked really nice,” Guzman said.

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