Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal
The two Albuquerque police officers who fatally shot 33-year-old Jeremy Robertson on Tuesday have both shot and killed men in the last four years while working for APD’s SWAT team.
Between them, they have shot and killed four people since 2010.
Officers Anthony Sedler and Ramon Ornelas both fired at Robertson, who was armed and wanted on parole violations stemming from stolen vehicle charges that he had pleaded guilty to.
It’s Sedler’s third shooting, and Ornelas’ second. Sedler has been with SWAT for six years, and Ornelas has been in the team for eight years.
Deputy Chief William Roseman released more details of the shooting Thursday.
He also questioned why Robertson was on the streets after being arraigned in May on several counts of aggravated assault on a police officer. In that incident, he rammed several police cars while trying to flee. An officer fired at him, but he was not hit.
Roseman said the reason Sedler and Ornelas have been involved in so many shootings is because being on the SWAT team puts them in dangerous situations more often than other officers.
“Because of their high skill and training, we call upon them to go to the calls that are the most dangerous, high risk … their call volume exposes them 10 to 100 times more than your average officer to these kinds of cases,” Roseman said.
Sedler, along with another officer, shot and killed 43-year-old Chris Hinz in 2010 after Hinz refused to come out of his house, but later approached officers armed with a rifle.
In 2013, Sedler, along with two other officers, shot and killed 41-year-old Parrish Dennison who had fled from police after trying to sell stolen musical instruments to a music store. Dennison, who was armed, was shot after an hourslong manhunt in the Northeast Heights.
Ornelas and another officer shot and killed Daniel Gonzales in a Tucumcari standoff they were called to by State Police in 2010, and police said Gonzales was armed with two shotguns.
Roseman said incidents leading up to Tuesday’s chase and fatal shooting started that morning when Special Investigations Division officers started conducting surveillance on Robertson in a trailer park near Eubank and Central after the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms thought he illegally had a gun and asked for help.
Officers lost track of him at some point, and APD detectives left, while ATF continued the search. They found him in the trailer park again in the afternoon, and called APD again. The SID detectives then returned and called SWAT officers to the area in case Robertson barricaded himself somewhere in the trailer park, Roseman said.
Officers watched Robertson drive a stolen, white van to a nearby gas station. A man riding with Robertson told police Robertson was acting nervous all day, wondering if police were after him, and forced the man to ride with him at gunpoint.
Surveillance video released by police shows Robertson walk in and out of the gas station, when he flees and undercover SID detectives run after him. Roseman said the officers identified themselves verbally while he was running.
Robertson reached into his waistband for a gun while running, and one of the detectives tried to use a Taser on him, but it didn’t hit him. He then ran into a car and spun around, which is when the witness said Robertson pointed the gun at officers, though Roseman hadn’t confirmed that.
Detectives then caught up to him at a gas station across the street and told him to drop the gun, and he jumped a fence and continued to run north, parallel to Eubank.
SWAT team officers Sedler and Ornelas, who knew he was armed, confronted him, yelled for him to drop the gun, and then fired two shots each, killing him. Robertson’s Ruger handgun was found about 12 feet from his body, Roseman said.
Roseman said lapel camera footage from officers at the shooting does exist, but APD has not released it because police are trying to enhance it. He said he didn’t know exactly where Robertson was or what he was doing when he was shot.
Tuesday’s shooting was the second time APD shot at Robertson while trying to arrest him in connection to the same stolen vehicle case. He’s the only person in recent memory whom APD has shot at twice.
APD Repeat Offender Project detective Russell Carter shot at Robertson’s tires in a Rio Rancho Walgreens parking lot in January when police tried to arrest him on stolen vehicle charges. Robertson rammed several police marked and unmarked police cars and fled the scene, but was later arrested.
Robertson pleaded guilty in the stolen vehicle case on April 30 and was sentenced to probation. On June 18, a warrant was issued for his arrest for a probation violation in that case, which is the charge police were trying to arrest him on Tuesday, according to court documents.
Meanwhile, Robertson was charged with several counts of aggravated assault on a police officer and aggravated fleeing in connection to the Rio Rancho confrontation with police. He was arraigned May 5 in Sandoval County District Court on those charges, and Judge Louis McDonald released Robertson on his own recognizance.
Roseman said APD officials are concerned that the court was lenient by releasing Robertson without bond on assault on a police officer charges.
“He intentionally rammed not only detective cars but marked police cars in Rio Rancho… and still with those charges, they didn’t even request bond on him,” Roseman said. “We’re concerned he was” released without bond.