CIBOLA COUNTY— An Albuquerque police officer fatally shot a man near Laguna Pueblo on Wednesday after a chase that began when the man shot at two female motorists on Albuquerque’s West Side, authorities said.
It was the second fatal shooting by an APD officer in three days.
The chase ended near mile post 107 of Interstate 40 when the man crashed into a semi-truck, got out of his late-model yellow Ford Mustang and, armed with a gun, led police on a half-mile foot pursuit.
He was shot once by the APD officer, State Police Lt. Robert McDonald told reporters after the incident.
McDonald would not release the dead man’s name, saying his family had not yet been notified.
He also would not identify the officer, saying State Police investigators were still interviewing him late Wednesday.
It was unclear whether the man fired shots at officers.
The chase began shortly after 1 p.m. when APD received calls that a man in a yellow Mustang had fired shots at a female motorist and her passenger near the intersection of Golf Course and McMahon NW, APD spokeswoman Tasia Martinez said.
Officers responded to the area and discovered both women had been shot at, Martinez said. Neither was struck. The driver of the vehicle was taken to nearby Lovelace Westside Hospital and treated for a broken ankle and cuts to her head.
It isn’t clear yet what prompted that shooting.
A witness followed the Mustang, whose driver fired several shots at the witness but did not hit him, she said.
APD officers then spotted the Mustang on Universe Boulevard NW, Martinez said, and tried to pull it over.
But the man sped away, prompting officers to obtain clearance from supervisors for a chase, she said.
Martinez said supervisors OK’d the use of a spike belt on the roadway at Unser and Ladera NW to try to stop the driver, but there wasn’t a safe opportunity to lay it down.
APD officers followed the man onto westbound Interstate 40 at high speeds, she said. They were authorized again to use a spike belt and to try stopping the Mustang with their own vehicles, but again could not do so safely.
As the man crossed the city limits, Martinez said, State Police assumed responsibility for the pursuit. But APD SWAT and other tactical officers continued to pursue the man as well, she said.
However, McDonald of the State Police said the pursuit remained APD’s responsibility. Investigations at the site of the crash, near the Dancing Eagle Casino, and the shooting were being handled by State Police, he said.
Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz was on scene after the shooting. So were other top APD officials, union representatives and the department’s mobile crime lab.
Police officials said APD’s crime scene team was at the site at the request of State Police and that APD detectives were performing tasks such as taking photographs. APD detectives were not processing evidence, officials said.
Wednesday’s was the second shooting involving an APD officer this week.
On Monday, veteran officer Martin Smith fatally shot 31-year-old Daniel Tillison after Tillison rammed into Smith’s police vehicle at an apartment complex in the 8200 block of Marquette NE.
It marked the second time an APD officer has fatally shot someone outside the department’s jurisdiction in the past 15 months.
In October 2010, an APD SWAT officer shot a heavily armed suspect who was involved in a six-hour standoff with police in Tucumcari. State Police had asked for assistance from the APD.
Wednesday marked the third officer-involved fatal shooting of 2012 for APD. Six men were shot by Albuquerque police officers last year, all of them fatally, and 14 in 2010, nine of them fatally.
Read Thursday morning’s article describing how activists are calling again for a federal probe into police shootings.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal