Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal
Destiney Jackson heard rapid gunshots before noon and stepped outside onto her motel-room balcony to see a man in jeans and a black T-shirt, covered in blood, in the McDonald’s parking lot below.
She didn’t know it at the time, but it was an Albuquerque police officer.
Police say the officer – an undercover detective – was shot by another officer in an undercover drug operation.
“This is a tragic day in our city and for this department,” Mayor Richard Berry said at a news conference near the scene Friday afternoon at Tramway and Central. “This is not a phone call any family ever wants to get, or that you want to get as the mayor. This is just an all too frequent example of how dangerous police work can be.”
The officer, whose name has not been released, underwent surgery and was in critical condition Friday afternoon, according to APD Chief Gorden Eden.
“There are many questions that need to be answered and, right now, I just don’t have the answers to those questions,” Eden said at the news conference. “We would just ask that the community please pray for the recovery of this officer.”
Another officer was injured, according to APD spokeswoman Celina Espinoza, but the injuries were minor and the officer was released from the hospital. Police didn’t say how the second officer was injured.
Two suspects from the narcotics operation were in custody, Eden said.
“They had cut his shirt open and you could see blood all over his upper chest,” said Jackson, who lives in a motel next to the McDonald’s.
The officer was soon rushed away in an ambulance.
Jackson said it appeared the officer had been in the car with the two suspects. She said she saw one of them crying after the shooting and another had torn clothes.
Jackson said she saw one of the officers, wearing a black undercover mask, shaking his or her head.
“He’s holding his head like ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this happened,'” she said.
Two young men were handcuffed at the scene and driven away in police cars.
Police released very little information, citing the “ongoing investigation” as the reason.
Espinoza wouldn’t confirm if any officers were in the same car as the two suspects, or if the two suspects were armed. Police didn’t say why the officer fired, or what exactly the perceived threat was.
Wallace Anderson was sitting inside the McDonald’s drinking coffee when he saw a black sports car drive into the parking lot followed by, what looked to him, three undercover police cars.
“It seemed like they knew what they were looking for, they were focused on that vehicle,” Anderson said.
He heard around five shots, but didn’t see the shooting. “We went into lockdown, we weren’t allowed to leave.”
Anderson said he saw officers in street clothes drag a man from the sports car and handcuff him. He then saw two of the officers hugging each other and one of the officers appeared to be rattled.
Both directions of Central at Tramway were blocked for hours while police investigated.
At about 3 p.m., a black sports car remained in the McDonald’s parking lot with five evidence markers around it. One was on the top of the car above the rear passenger side seat; another was on the hood next to the windshield. There was another on the ground outside the front passenger side door next to a large blood stain. Another was behind the car and underneath a light blue/green pickup truck, and another under a white pickup truck.
Investigators were going through the trunk, photographing, tagging and putting evidence into bags.
A large number of APD personnel were on scene, including violent crime detectives, three APD mobile crime labs and an APD chaplain.
Friday’s shooting comes less than a week after veteran APD officer Lou Golson was shot and injured while making a DWI stop early last Saturday morning. Golson, who was shot four times, underwent surgery and is recovering.
That shooting sparked a massive, citywide manhunt for the suspect. Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested suspect Christopher Cook early Monday morning.
Cook pleaded not guilty Wednesday to an attempted first-degree murder charge.