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DA clears deputy who fatally shot armed suspect

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The District Attorney’s Office in Bernalillo County said Friday that it won’t seek charges against deputy Jeffrey Bartram for fatally shooting Adam Padilla, 34, in December during a traffic stop after Padilla pulled a firearm, according to a review of the shooting.

“Deputy Bartram had to make a split-second decision and his decision was to use deadly force in defense of himself,” a review of the shooting states.

Bartram of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office pulled Padilla over late Dec. 16 near the 7600 block of Central NW on suspicion of several traffic violations. After originally deciding to let Padilla and his passenger, Ashley Beuerle, leave with a warning, Bartram asked Padilla to step out of the car when the deputy saw what he thought was cocaine on Padilla’s nose.

Once outside the vehicle, Padilla refused to turn around and be patted down for weapons.

Bernalillo County deputies don’t use on-body cameras like Albuquerque police officers, so there is no video recording of the shooting. Bartram was wearing an audio recorder attached to his belt, which recorded the interaction between him and Padilla.

According to that recording, Bartram told Padilla to turn around to be searched for weapons. Padilla refused.

“This is the day I have to go, sir,” Padilla said.

Bartram said he first shot Padilla with a Taser, which was ineffective. He said Padilla then pulled a handgun from his waist and Bartram shot him four times with his pistol.

Padilla was shot in the right forehead, right arm, right armpit and the left side of his stomach, according to a report from the state Office of the Medical Investigator. A toxicology test found that Padilla had methamphetamine and marijuana in his system at the time of the shooting.

Criminal investigators said they recovered Bartram’s weapon from the scene and a 9mm Glock 17 near Padilla’s driver’s-side door. The gun was loaded, with a bullet in the chamber and a magazine with 19 hollow-point bullets, according to reports on the shooting.

“I was in fear that this guy was going to shoot me,” Bartram said in an interview with detectives, according to a transcript of the interview.

Beuerle, in an interview with sheriff’s deputies, said she never saw Padilla with a gun that night, according to reports on the shooting.

BCSO Sgt. Aaron Williamson said Bartram has returned to active duty and he was not disciplined as a result of the internal affairs investigation into the shooting.

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