ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The last time Albuquerque Police Department detective Russell Carter fired his gun in the line of duty, a fatal shooting near Grants, the department changed its policies to require APD officers to play more of a “support role only” when operations lead them outside their jurisdiction.
On Thursday, Carter, a detective with APD’s Repeat Offender Project team, fired his gun an undisclosed number of times at the tires of a silver sedan driven by a suspect wanted on at least two felony warrants. Police later arrested 33-year-old Jeremy Robertson, who was uninjured, after following him into Rio Rancho from Albuquerque.
Robertson was wanted on charges that included assaulting an officer and aggravated fleeing.
Rio Rancho police say APD shot at Robertson’s car to stop him from fleeing.
In March 2012, Carter fatally shot 45-year-old Gary Atencio after Atencio led police on high-speed car chase for more than 50 miles, followed by a half-mile foot chase. Atencio had shot at two female drivers on Albuquerque’s West Side, according to police.
Two months after that shooting, the department changed its policies to limit APD’s role outside the city to only a supporting role in police operations, unless there is an “immediate threat.”
APD spokeswoman Tasia Martinez would not say in an email Friday whether APD took the lead in the pursuit of Robertson.
“This case is under review, as is standard with any incident in which an officer discharges their firearm in the line of duty,” Martinez said.
APD did ask for a marked Rio Rancho Police Department vehicle to assist in their pursuit, according to an RRPD spokeswoman, but it’s not clear whether that meant Rio Rancho police were taking the lead.
A national police think tank called the Police Executive Research Forum, known as PERF, recommended to the city in June 2011, that APD eliminate the practice of shooting at tires. PERF said the policy could endanger civilians and lead to unpredictable or erratic driving behavior by the suspect. PERF was hired to review APD policies and make recommendations on use of force as the department was coming under scrutiny for an increase in officer-involved shootings.
Martinez said APD officials declined to adopt the PERF recommendation – one of very few the department did not adopt – to protect the public in situations where a dangerous suspect is fleeing a scene.
“Officers need to be able to disable vehicles to prevent a fleeing offender from harming the community,” Martinez said.
The practice of shooting at tires also came under fire recently when a State Police officer fired at a minivan full of children following a traffic stop near Taos. That officer was later fired.