ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The man shot by police in the early morning hours of Nov. 15 wanted to commit suicide by police officer, Albuquerque Police Department Chief Allen Banks said Friday morning at a news briefing.
Banks said Robert Garcia, Sr., 64, recently bought a pellet gun because it looked like a real handgun and tucked a note into his wallet that said “thank you officer” in red marker on a piece of legal paper. Banks said the note was to thank whichever officer shot and killed him.
APD officer Peter Romero shot Garcia one time in the torso as Garcia walked toward him with the pellet gun after a traffic stop around 3 a.m. on Nov 15, Banks said, and he ignored as many as nine commands to drop the weapon before the officer decided to shoot. Banks said Garcia left the officer with no choice but to shoot.
Garcia was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, though Banks said his condition has improved. Garcia also apologized to the officer for putting him in a position where he felt he had to shoot the suspect, Banks said.
Banks said the police stop happened on the 4400 block of Montgomery Boulevard when Romero saw Garcia driving east at around 5 mph. Romero put on his emergency lights and pulled Garcia over under suspicion of drunken driving.
When Romero was radioing in his position when Garcia stepped out of the car with the gun and approached the officer. Banks showed one lapel camera video still that showed Garcia pointing the gun at the officer.
Investigators questioned Garcia’s family who said Garcia had been feeling suicidal lately. Banks said Garcia is being investigated on felony charges by New Mexico State Police, though the chief did not have any more details about what that investigation was.