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UPDATED: Las Cruces Police Officer Fatally Shoots Man

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Police say the man was shot after he advanced on two officers responding to a call about a man waving a sword in a “hostile manner” at an apartment complex


LAS CRUCES — A police officer Tuesday morning fatally shot a 23-year-old man who, allegedly wielding a 4-foot-long Japanese-style sword, advanced on officers outside an apartment complex, said Police Chief Richard Williams.

Neighbors at the 42-unit Mesilla Manor Apartments on Boutz Road complained that police did not try other measures to disarm the man before resorting to deadly force. They described the shooting victim, whom police declined to identify Tuesday, as a low-key and friendly man who showed his lizard collection to children in the complex. The victim went by the name of Lance, they said, but they were not sure if that is his real name, and did not know his last name.


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The case marks the second time this year that Las Cruces police fatally shot a civilian.

“That never should have happened, no matter if he had a sword. It’s just dead wrong,” said neighbor Gary Christian. “It’s inhuman. There’s always better ways to do things than to kill someone.”

Another neighbor, Rudy Vela, described the victim as a “great guy, an amazing kid.”

“He didn’t mess with anybody. He showed respect to everybody,” Vela said. “It’s tragic that he was killed in the manner that he was.”

Police were summoned to the apartment complex about 8:30 a.m. after the man was seen carrying the sword and “waving it in a hostile manner,” according to police spokesman Dan Trujillo.

After two officers arrived on the scene, the man “aggressively closed distance” on the officers, and one, a seven-year veteran, fired his weapon, striking the victim at least once, Trujillo said.

Two residents said they heard police shout commands twice moments before at least four shots were fired. Shell casings were found about 25 feet from the spot where the victim fell in a parking lot, another resident said.

Referring to the shooting, Williams said, “This is the last thing any officer wants to do. However, our officers have the duty and responsibility to not only protect themselves but the citizens who are in the immediate area.”


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Trujillo said it won’t be known if the victim was intoxicated until the autopsy is complete.

Following standard procedure, the two officers, who the chief declined to identify, were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by a multi-agency police task force that includes representation from the Las Cruce Police Department. Findings will be forwarded to the office of 3rd Judicial District Attorney Susana Martinez for review.

In the other Las Cruces police shooting case this year, Martinez concluded that two officers acted appropriately on Jan. 17 when they shot and killed 25-year-old Antonio Medrano Jr. Medrano wielded a knife and bat when two officers shot him from a distance of five to seven yards. In April Medrano’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Las Cruces police in federal court.

In late March, a Doña Ana County sheriff’s deputy fatally shot a 17-year-old boy in Mesquite after the youth jumped into the deputy’s cruiser and appeared to threaten the deputy with the vehicle.


Tuesday, 13 July 2010 14:30


Las Cruces police say a 23-year-old man was shot and killed Tuesday when he rushed two officers with a samurai-type sword, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

The newspaper said that according to Las Cruces Police Department spokesman Dan Trujillo, the name of the dead man would not be released until his family could be notified.

The incident occurred after the officers responded just before 8:30 a.m. to a call about an agitated, shirtless man waving a sword in a hostile manner around the grounds of an apartment complex, the Sun-News reported. The officers were in the parking lot of the complex when Trujillo said the man rushed them.

The newspaper said that according to one witness, one of the officers fired three shots at the man after he raised the 4-foot sword at the officer.

Trujillo told the Sun-News that the officer who fired the shots, a seven-year veteran of the department, and the other officer will be placed on standard administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the shooting death. Trujillo said, as is standard procedure, the incident will undergo a multi-agency investigation.




Tuesday, 13 July 2010 12:47


One man is dead after an encounter Tuesday morning with Las Cruces police who responded to a call at an apartment complex about a man walking through the complex with a sword, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

Dan Trujillo, Las Cruces Police Department spokesman, told the newspaper an investigation is under way. He said the dead man is not a police officer.

The Sun-News reported that according to Trujillo, the call came in at 8:27 a.m. and police responded.

Details about what happened once police arrived were not immediately available. Trujillo said that was under investigation, the newspaper reported.