Police have identified the officer who shot a man Monday night during a robbery and attempted carjacking.
Police said officer Brian Pitzer fired at suspect Joaquin Ortega an undisclosed number of times, striking him at least once. Ortega has since been released from the hospital into the county jail, where he’s facing a slew of charges.
Pitzer has been involved in two other police shootings since late 2009. None has been fatal.
In November 2009, Pitzer was one of two officers who shot two suspects during a confrontation at an Albuquerque apartment complex. Pitzer and another officer arrived to find two men, one armed with a sledgehammer and the other knife, and shot them.
In November 2010, Pitzer was one of several officers who rushed into the home of a mentally ill man threatening suicide. Pitzer shouted, “I’m going lethal!” and shot the man, who survived. The man shot was also struck with a Taser after being shot by Pitzer, according to a subsequent investigation.
In November 2012, Pitzer was honored for resuscitating and saving the life of a 2-day old newborn who was choking.
Ortega has a lengthy criminal history, including drug dealing.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported speculation as to why Joaquin Ortega’s status was unavailable at UNMH.
Copyright © 2013 Albuquerque Journal
The man shot by an Albuquerque police officer Monday afternoon after a suspected robbery and attempted carjacking has a lengthy criminal history that includes multiple drug charges and a pending trial for allegedly driving drunk and badly injuring someone else, according to court records.
But apart from identifying Joaquin Ortega, 34, as the man shot, but not killed, near Central and Washington, police did not release much new information Tuesday about the circumstances behind the shooting. They also did not identify the police officer who shot him.
Police have not said whether Ortega fired at officers with a gun he had just used to allegedly rob a woman and a young child.
Ortega was booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center on Tuesday night.
Earlier in the day, police had said he was in stable condition, although a University of New Mexico hospital spokesman said there was no record of Ortega being at the hospital. APD spokeswoman Tasia Martinez said that Ortega might have been given a fake name when admitted to ensure his “safety and privacy” from the media, or that he might have been transferred to another facility.
Ortega’s criminal history in New Mexico goes back to a marijuana possession charge and an aggravated DWI charge from 1999, according to online court records. Since then, he’s been arrested on marijuana and other drug charges, including two charges in 2009 and 2010 for possession with intent to distribute, online records state.
It’s not clear in online records what came of those charges.
Ortega also has a jury trial scheduled for February 2014 for a charge of great bodily harm by vehicle from a DWI, online records show. Ortega was indicted on that charge in April 2011.
Ortega was shot an undisclosed number of times late Monday afternoon when police arrived to find him trying to carjack a vehicle while brandishing a handgun, APD Chief Allen Banks said in an “extremely preliminary” briefing Monday night.
Banks said Ortega crashed his car near Jefferson and Central NE and got out holding a handgun. He began walking east on Central and confronted a woman with a child at a bus stop and robbed her of $15.
He then turned his attention to a man driving a car nearby, Banks said, and tried to steal his car. An officer then arrived and shot him, Banks said. Banks did not say whether Ortega aimed or fired his gun at the officers or anyone else.
Banks said he did not now how many shots were fired or how many times Ortega was hit.
The shooting occurred during afternoon rush hour, halting traffic and sparking a response from dozens of officers. Central Avenue from late in the afternoon into Monday night was closed as police investigated.
Ortega faces a slew of charges including, but not limited to, armed robbery, aggravated assault on a police officer, aggravated assault and child abuse. He could also face federal charges, police said.
The shooting is the department’s third this year. APD officers have shot at 30 men since 2010, striking 27 and killing 19.
The department is also in the midst of a federal Department of Justice investigation into whether APD has a “pattern or practice” of violating Albuquerque residents’ civil rights.