A look at every Albuquerque police shooting in 2022 - Albuquerque Journal

A look at every Albuquerque police shooting in 2022

Frank Baty’s car after he was shot by Albuquerque Police Department officers in June of 2022. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

The Albuquerque Police Department recently released a review of the record-high 18 police shootings that its officers were involved in last year, including several proposed changes in an attempt to cut down on future deadly force.

APD gave summaries of each incident with “corrective action” taken after an investigation, including officer discipline and training referrals, and “items of consideration,” which are action items made by an APD leadership group that reviewed each case.

The changes, some proposed and some already implemented, included providing magnifier optics so police can better see a suspect, policy changes to increase opportunities for less-lethal force and additional hand-to-hand combat training to hopefully avoid the use of more serious force.

During a briefing March 23, APD Chief Harold Medina said changing trends of guns and violence — noting a seemingly relentless rise of homicides — may factor into the large number of police shootings last year.

“I think that although we had an increase, we are seeing different behaviors and trends with the individuals that we’re dealing with,” he said. “And I think that’s something that we need to consider as a community is like, ‘how are we going to change this culture?’”

The police shooting summaries released by APD detailed which shootings led to an officer being fired but did not elaborate on all training referrals or different forms of discipline, such as letters of reprimand. The Journal has reported on some of the internal investigations that have been released following a shooting and have pending Inspection of Public Records Requests out for investigations in other cases.

Gilbert Gallegos, an Albuquerque police spokesman, said the working group’s review was meant to look at the incidents as a whole and identify trends.

He added, “It wasn’t meant to re-assess or re-investigate specific incidents.”

In response to criticisms on some of the incidents, Gallegos said “I don’t expect the families in these cases to be familiar with all of the major changes that have occurred in the department, particularly in the past three years when it comes to use of force policies, training and implementation.”

“Culture change has occurred in many ways, although we have more work to do,” he said. “Chief Medina is the first to acknowledge shortcomings in the department, which is necessary to ensure lasting reform.”

APD’s federally-mandated reform efforts began when the department entered into a Court Approved Settlement Agreement, or CASA, in 2014 following a Department of Justice investigation which found officers displayed a pattern of excessive force exacerbated by insufficient oversight, inadequate training and ineffective policies.

The department’s success with the reforms had backslid in recent years until reports released in 2022 showed APD made significant gains in complying with the CASA and officials set a goal of full compliance by spring 2024.

Here is a list of each 2022 police shooting, compiled from information provided by APD, prior Journal reporting and comment on the behalf of those killed or injured by police from relatives, attorneys and online obituaries.

Devin Morris

Feb. 1, 2022

Officers Romero Garza and Charles Miller fatally shot Morris, 31, as he ran across the parking lot of the Court John Motel with a gun in his hand. Officials reported at a briefing that one of the officers’ gunfire nearly struck a bystander and a third officer used a Taser during the incident.

APD said that officers were investigated for not trying to save Morris’ life with chest compressions after shooting him. Before Morris was shot officer Garza tried to go “hands on” to detain him but failed. The working group found, based on this incident, officers should be given more training to “improve their confidence and efficiency in empty-handed tactics.”

The working group also found the situation did not allow time for de-escalation and there was no “missed opportunity” to use less-lethal force.

An online obituary said Morris, a father of three who was born in Farmington, was “a simple man, with a love and passion for art and music.”

“Although Devin’s life was cut short, he impacted the life of everyone he came across,” according to the obituary. “Devin’s laugh and smile would radiate through the room. Devin strived to do for others and put himself last.”

John Dawson Hunter

March 14, 2022

Officers Randy Serrano , Dereck Taylor, Sgt. Greg Doose fatally shot Hunter, 52, after he shot three people, killing one woman, in a Foothills neighborhood. APD said it investigated after cement shrapnel from Serrano’s gunfire injured two officers and made a referral for Serrano to undergo cross-fire training. The working group found officers had a chance to use less-lethal force on Hunter but those on scene determined “these options were not available under APD’s policy.”

“Following the incident, APD took several steps to clarify the circumstances under which less-lethal munitions are permissible under department policy,” according to APD.

Hunter’s family could not be reached and no obituary could be found.

Collin Neztsosie

March 19, 2022

Lt. William Young and Sgt. Jonathan Mares fatally shot Neztsosie, 33, near Central and Tramway, after police say he pointed a phone at citizens and officers. Neztsosie was known to APD for previous mental health issues and was on the phone with police dispatch, apparently in crisis, when he was shot.

APD said after an investigation a referral was made for two supervisors who were “actively participating” rather than serving in a supervisory function before Neztsosie was shot. APD said it investigated after supervisors Young and Mares were “actively participating” rather than serving in a supervisory function before Neztosie was shot. APD said Young was exonerated by the investigation and no training referrals were made.

The working group found officers could have benefited from magnifier optics to get a clearer view of Neztsosie, who was reportedly pretending a phone was a gun. The working group also found the situation did not allow time for de-escalation and there was no “missed opportunity” to use less-lethal force.

Attorney Nick Rimmer, who is representing Neztsosie’s family in a wrongful death suit, said the proposed changes were “bought with blood.”

He added, “I know they keep on saying they are making changes and improving but I haven’t seen anything.”

Rimmer said that while “it’s nice” to hear APD proposing solutions, he didn’t believe there should have been an armed response in any of the cases involving a person in mental health crisis.

Donovan Bookout

March 29, 2022

Officers Justin Collins and Sgt. Andrew Herpolsheimer shot at Bookout, 44, during a gunfight after Bookout allegedly fatally shot a hotel security guard. APD said that the investigation “identified an issue with tactics” as police tried a high-risk traffic stop on Bookout, but did not elaborate. A referral was also initiated for an officer whose radio fell out of its holster during the incident.

The working group determined officers did not miss an opportunity to use de-escalation or less-lethal force “given the circumstances.”

John Withers

April 6, 2022

Officers Shay Babcock, missing persons detective Bryce Willsey and armed robbery detective Greg Reams exchanged gunfire with carjacking suspect Withers, 20, killing him, during a foot pursuit. APD said an investigation suggested no corrective action and the working group determined officers did not miss an opportunity to use de-escalation or less-lethal force “given the circumstances.”

Withers’ family could not be reached and no obituary could be found.

Shannon Candelario

April 12, 2022

Detective Damian Lujan shot and injured Candelario, 47, who had a key fob in his hand when Lujan and officer Jerry Arnold fired at him in a motel parking lot during an auto theft investigation. APD said Lujan acted within policy but Arnold was fired for shooting at Candelario without “sufficient information to make a decision regarding deadly force.”

The working group determined officers did not miss an opportunity to use de-escalation but found less-lethal force might have helped take Candelario into custody before police shot him.
Candelario’s family could not be reached.

Unknown person

May 3, 2022

An officer — who was not identified by APD — exchanged gunfire with an unknown person in a SUV after responding to gunfire on East Central. Nobody was injured or detained in the incident. APD said an investigation suggested no corrective action. The working group determined de-escalation was not practical “given the dynamics” and less-lethal force was not appropriate in response to the deadly force. The group found police may have benefited from magnifier optics to better see the suspect before exchanging gunfire.

Frank Baty

June 19, 2022

Officers Tristen Garcia and Justin Sison fatally shot Baty, 58, after he pointed a BB gun at them in Downtown Albuquerque. APD said an investigation suggested no corrective action. The working group determined officers did not have time to use de-escalation or miss an opportunity to less-lethal force.

Baty’s family told the Journal in October they felt police could have done a better job de-escalating and they were requesting documents to learn more of what happened. 
In a recent call, Baty’s father told the Journal those requests were a dead end and they “were going to let it die.” JC Baty said revisiting his son’s death was just too painful.

An online obituary described Frank Baty, an Albuquerque High graduate and all-star high school football player, as “a free-spirited individual and loved to converse with others and debate almost any topic.”

“He was a very intelligent young man who loved to laugh,” according to the obituary.

James Langlois

July 5, 2022

Officer Matthew Silva fired at Langlois, 64, after Langlois shot himself inside a van in a Target parking lot. Silva had been called to the parking lot for a person loitering and discovered Langlois had a warrant related to a probation violation. Langlois died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was not struck by Silva’s gunfire.

Court records showed that, shortly before the incident, Langlois told his probation officer he was going to kill himself — going to a cabin to “die peacefully” — due to health issues. APD said an investigation suggested no corrective action. The working group determined officers had no opportunity for de-escalation or less-lethal force given the “abrupt nature of” Langlois’ actions.

Langlois’ family could not be reached and no obituary could be found.

Wendel Tagle

July 21, 2022

Officer Robert Sanchez fatally shot Tagle, 43, after Tagle shot his wife and pointed a gun at several others in a West Side apartment complex. The shooting happened a day after a mobile crisis team was dispatched due to Tagle having an apparent mental crisis and referred the couple to counseling. APD said a training referral was made for the mobile crisis team clinician based on their conduct, but APD did not elaborate.

The working group determined officers had no opportunity for de-escalation or less-lethal force given the “abrupt nature of” Tagel’s actions. The group also found the “dynamic nature” of the incident “highlighted the need for continual supervisor training on the importance of command and control.”

An online obituary for Tagle had little details but several people left tributes, describing him as “kind” and fondly recalling late night conversations they shared while working together.

Unknown person

Aug. 21, 2022

Sgt. Harold Sennett fired at a man who had just fatally shot a woman at a parking lot in Downtown Albuquerque. Police believe the man was not struck by gunfire and has since evaded capture. APD said an investigation suggested no corrective action. The working group determined police had no opportunity for de-escalation or less-lethal force.

Keshawn Thomas

Aug. 28, 2022

Officers Marcos Flores, Dustin Ketchum and Kenneth Skeens fatally shot Thomas, 27, after he was found inebriated and passed out in a car outside a gas station. APD said the investigation led to referrals for the officers’ failure to de-escalate, showing a “hostile demeanor” toward Thomas and conducting an “improper investigation” and failure to comply with officer-safety training. Additionally, concerns were raised over Skeens’ basis for using deadly force without having a clear view of the threat but leadership found he was within policy in that regard.

Journal reporting found Flores and Ketchum were each given a written reprimand and two verbal reprimands and Skeens was fired for an unrelated use-of-force incident.

The working group agreed with the referrals for failure to de-escalate, proper investigation and officer-safety procedures but there was “not a specific opportunity” for less-lethal force to be used.
Attorney Taylor Smith, who is representing Thomas’ family in a wrongful death suit, said he disagreed that the use of deadly force was within policy.

He also said police did not automatically try to save Thomas’ life after shooting him, which the Journal previously reported. Smith called first aid a “constitutionally protected right” after being injured during a police interaction.

In light of the large number of police shootings and the “hostile demeanor” found in the investigation into Thomas’ death, Smith questioned how APD is addressing cultural issues of excessive force.

“It’s not an us versus them mentality when you’re dealing with citizens… that’s one of the biggest issues here,” he said.

Gabriel Garcia

Sept. 21, 2022

Officer Quan La shot and injured burglary suspect Garcia, 48, after Garcia threw landscaping rocks at La from 60 feet away and continued firing even as Garcia ran away. APD said the investigation found the first shots fired by La were within policy but subsequent gunfire violated policy as Garcia was fleeing the scene. The investigation also identified issues in La’s failure to update dispatch about his “location and activities.”

La was fired. The working group concurreorond in the investigation’s finding and found Garcia was too far away for less-lethal force and La did not try to de-escalate.

Garcia’s attorney, Samuel Awad, previously told the Journal the public should be “always concerned that police officers are given the proper training when they are in the line of duty.”

Oron Newson

Sept. 27, 2022

Officers Adam Portillos and Benjamin Daffron shot at Newson, 26, injuring him, after Newson pointed a gun at police from the balcony of his apartment in Southeast Albuquerque. APD said the investigation found officers, and a supervisor, failed to establish a force array to “ensure they have multiple options” that include less-lethal force. The working group did attempt to de-escalate with Newson for over an hour and the use of less-lethal was not practical “given the distance as well as (Newson’s) actions.”

Yvonne Wilson, Newson’s grandmother, said he is still in the hospital awaiting his eighth surgery to try to re-attach his intestines. She said Newson also has nerve damage in his leg and cannot walk.

“He has a walker and a colostomy bag, so no he’s not okay,” Wilson said.

She said the incident stemmed from a mental health crisis and Newson just “wasn’t in his right mind.”

“I think they could have brought some settlement to the situation beside them shooting him,” she said. Wilson said she hopes her grandson gets the psychiatric help he needs while in the hospital.

Daniel Rodriguez

Oct. 5, 2022

A detective, who has never been identified by police, exchanged gunfire with Rodriguez after following a carjacking suspect to a home in Northeast Albuquerque. APD said an investigation suggested no corrective action. The working group determined police had no opportunity for de-escalation and there was no justification for less-lethal force before gunfire erupted.

Julian Sanchez

Nov. 5, 2022

Officer Nicholas Steward fatally shot Sanchez, 21, after Sanchez crashed his car into a sign along Tramway. There was a gun found in the car after the shooting and in December APD said evidence showed Sanchez had shot himself in the leg with it.

But, in March, APD said an investigation found Sanchez pointed it at officers and fired. An investigation led to a training referral for an officer who went toward Sanchez after police stated Sanchez had a gun. The working group determined police had no opportunity for de-escalation and there was no justification for less-lethal force before gunfire erupted.

An online obituary said Sanchez “had a sensitive heart” and enjoyed skateboarding, doodling and spending time with his family, especially his nieces and nephews.

“He leaves them with many fond memories of traveling, hiking and enjoying nature,” according to the obituary.

Jesus Crosby

Nov. 10, 2022

Officers Chance Gore and Alex Couch fatally shot Crosby, 41, who was holding nail clippers and having a mental health crisis outside the Prisoner Transport Center. Another officer fired a Taser at Crosby during the incident. APD said the investigation raised a concern about a Taser not being used earlier and indicated the Taser policy “should be reviewed.”

It also led to training referrals for eight officers based on a lack of supervisor, failure to create distance, seek cover and assemble a force array. The use of deadly force by Couch and Gore was found to be within policy. The working group had several additional concerns, but those were not elaborated, and determined officers did not de-escalate and missed an earlier opportunity to use a Taser to take Crosby into custody before the shooting.

In a released statement, Crosby’s family said they were still grieving the loss of “an integral part of our life.” An obituary described him as “a gentle giant and silly at heart” whose laugh was contagious.

The family said Crosby was killed “for no reason.”

They called APD’s “minor policy change” and additional officer training an insufficient response in the wake of his death.

The family questioned why police were “in a rush to use force” against Crosby when he was not “a danger to their lives.”

“We are sad that we have lost Jesus and we are angry and tired of the pitiful response that APD continues to provide,” the family wrote.

Attorney Mark Fine, who is representing Crosby’s family, said “APD keeps doing the same thing: shooting and killing civilians, papering over the deaths and their shattering impacts on families by tinkering with policies and mandating symbolic supplemental training for the officers involved, and then shooting and killing more civilians.”

“The City of Albuquerque’s failure to protect our mentally ill population from APD seems to reflect a judgement by the City that such citizens do not deserve liberty or dignity, and that they need not be treated with basic respect,” Fine said.

Fine has since filed a wrongful death suit against the City of Albuquerque.

Blaine Denetdele

Nov. 25, 2022

Officers Arniel Sampang, Jacob Muñoz and Christopher Taddoni fatally shot Denetdele, 30, when he charged police holding two chef’s knives after officers responded to a family dispute at Denetdele’s West Side home. APD said an investigation suggested no corrective action. The working group determined police tried to de-escalate and used less-lethal force, a 40mm sponge round, but it was ineffective in stopping Denetdele.

Mavis Denetdele-Perry, Denetdele’s mother, said APD was “totally false” in saying her son had “previously battered” her in their report released in March.

She said she had “pummeled him a few times” during an incident years ago and Denetedele hit her back in self-defense.

“When I read the report that said, he battered me — my husband and I just were floored by that total lie,” Denetdele-Perry said.

She also said she told the dispatcher her son was autistic and there was no negotiation, as there had been in previous police visits. In those incidents, Denetedele said, her son would immediately calm down.

“That’s exactly what we thought was going to happen, we did not know that they were going to do that to him. Had we known we would not have called the police,” she said, adding that her former trust in APD is shattered.

“I am trying to, through counseling, get over the anger, the resentment and hatred I feel toward APD,” Denetdele said. “I know those officers had no training and how to handle a mental issue … It’s just a fabricated bunch of lies, anything they just say and justify what they did.”

She added, “They just saw somebody that they were frightened of and just immediately fired.”

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