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Rio Rancho police said officers attempted to use nonlethal force before shooting and killing a knife-wielding man who was threatening a family member during a domestic violence incident late Wednesday.
Rio Rancho Police Department Capt. Joel Holt identified 42-year-old John Paul Romero as the person fatally shot.
He said two family members were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries sustained before police arrived.
Holt identified the officers involved as Cpl. A. Tortorici, and officers A. Benavidez and J. Gurule. Holt did not provide the officers’ first names, but online Rio Rancho salary records suggest that the three are Cpl. Anthony Tortorici and officers Anthony Benavidez and Justin Gurule.
Holt said the three have been placed on mandatory administrative leave with pay.
Officer Dusty Francisco, a New Mexico State Police spokesman, said the agency is investigating the incident.
“The New Mexico State Police acts solely as factfinders in its cases and does not determine whether the actions of an officer were justified in these types of matters,” he said. “That decision rests with the district attorney’s office.”
Rio Rancho police responded to the domestic dispute at a home in the 4600 block of Platinum Drive NE around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Francisco said Romero’s mother told a dispatcher that Romero was armed with a knife and “harming family members.”
Holt said officers found Romero inside the home “actively threatening a family member while armed with two knives.”
“Our officers attempted less lethal means to stop the male subject from his continued threat; this includes the use of a Taser device,” Holt said in a news release.
“At some point during the encounter,” Francisco said, “two RRPD officers discharged their department-issued firearms, striking Romero.”
Romero was pronounced dead at the scene, while Romero’s mother and another family member were taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
“We recognize that this is a tragic incident for the family involved, our officers, and everybody in our greater community,” Holt said. “Our mission, as always, is to secure the health, safety and welfare of our many communities.”