Albuquerque police officials on Monday identified the man fatally shot by officers after a high-speed pursuit over the weekend as 41-year-old Raymond Leroy Garcia, a convicted felon with a New Mexico arrest history that dates back to 1992.
APD investigators are still trying to determine whether Garcia fired a shot at officers Troy Nikko, William Thomas and Michael Oates on Saturday night outside Cross Country Auto Sales on Lomas NE.
Investigators recovered the weapon that Garcia had pointed at the officers, Police Chief Ray Schultz said during a news conference Monday.
Nikko and Thomas, both three-year APD veterans, and Oates, who has been with the department six years and was acting sergeant at the time of the shooting, were all placed on standard three-day leave with pay after Saturday’s incident.
None of the three officers has previously been involved in a shooting, the chief said.
It was the fourth officer-involved shooting in Albuquerque this year, the 17th since January 2010 and the 12th that was fatal. It brought about 100 parents, children and friends of people shot by Albuquerque police to the City Council’s meeting late Monday.
They were there to testify – sometimes through tears – during the council’s public comment period. They criticized, in particular, how police respond to people with mental-health problems and urged the city to do something to prevent future shootings.
Mike Gomez, who said his son was shot by police, said the pain of losing a loved never goes away.
When an officer fatally shoots someone, he said, “you not only kill them, but you kill a part of every member of their family.”
Renetta Torres, a deputy county manager whose son was shot and killed by police, said there’s a systemic problem.
“Change won’t bring back any of our loved ones, but at least their lives won’t be in vain,” Torres told councilors.
“This administration and the Albuquerque Police Department share the concerns of some of the people we heard from in tonight’s City Council meeting,” said mayoral spokesman Chris Ramirez.
“We have no simple answer as to why our officers have found themselves in these tragic and awful situations. Mayor Berry has called for additional training for our officers on de-escalation practices and the city has engaged the Police Executive Research Forum to help understand some of the root issues with the abnormally high number of officer involved shootings.”
The administration hasn’t received the research forum report, he said.
Saturday’s shooting followed a high-speed pursuit that began at the parking lot of Freeway Liquors and ended when Nikko, Thomas and Oates used their police cruisers to pin the stolen pickup against a fence beside Cross Country Auto Sales.
Garcia had been out of prison less than two months when he allegedly tried to carjack two different people outside the Freeway Liquors store on Second Street NW about 10 p.m., according to Shannon McReynolds, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections.
In November 2008, he was sentenced to five years, six months in prison for false imprisonment, child abuse without great bodily harm, escape from jail and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, McReynolds said.
Garcia had already served nearly a year of that term by the time he was sentenced, McReynolds said, and he received another two-plus years in good time. Garcia was released on April 11 and was still on supervised parole at the time of Saturday’s incident.
In total, according to Schultz and court records, Garcia has been arrested 13 times in New Mexico.
Journal staff writer Elaine Briseño contributed to this report.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal