The deputy, who has been identified only as a member of the DWI unit, pulled over 34-year-old Adam Padilla in a white 1997 Oldsmobile around 10:50 p.m. Tuesday.
BCSO Capt. Matt Thomas said that “a struggle occurred” and that the deputy shot Padilla.
Thomas didn’t provide details about the struggle. He said deputies believe Padilla had a gun in his possession during the shooting. A gun was found at the scene of the shooting during the investigation, Thomas said.
He didn’t say if Padilla was holding that gun – or fired it – during the confrontation.
Padilla was taken to University of New Mexico Hospital where he was pronounced dead. His female passenger, who was there during the confrontation, was interviewed by the investigative team and released. She has not been charged with anything.
His girlfriend, Ashley Beuerle, told KOAT-TV that the pair were pulled over because the car’s registration was expired. She said the deputy was going to let them go, but then asked to talk with Padilla. That’s when the shooting happened.
“I feel devastated, empty. I don’t know what to say,” she said.
Padilla faced a handful of criminal charges in the past but was convicted in just one case. That case included two counts of aggravated battery on a household member in 2009.
The deputy who fired was not injured, Sheriff Dan Houston said. The deputy is on paid leave until the investigation is finished, as is standard when a deputy is involved in a shooting.
“It’s obviously going to be a long night. We are just starting the investigation,” Houston said early Wednesday.
Central Avenue between 75th Street and Unser Boulevard was closed in both directions after midnight as officials investigated the shooting.
Edward Villa, who lives nearby, said he was awakened by the sound of a helicopter around 11 p.m. and then heard about five to six gunshots.
An Oldsmobile remained on the shoulder of Central Avenue between 75th Street and Unser Boulevard throughout the investigation. The trunk and passenger -side door of the car were open.
A multiagency shoot team that includes investigators from New Mexico State Police and the Albuquerque Police Department are investigating, Thomas said. Someone from the District Attorney’s Office also was on scene, he said.
A contract signed in the wake of the Department of Justice’s agreement with the Albuquerque Police Department solidifies the way that officer-involved shootings are investigated. Investigators from State Police, APD, the Rio Rancho Police Department and BCSO are supposed to investigate officer-involved shootings, serious use-of-force cases and in-custody deaths in Bernalillo County.
This is the first officer-involved shooting in the metro area since that agreement was solidified in October.
The last BCSO deputy-involved shooting was in August, when a suspect rammed a deputy’s car, trapping him inside.