Monday, November 01, 2010
Officer Kills Armed Man
By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Journal Staff Writer
An Albuquerque police officer shot and killed a man Sunday after he refused commands to drop an assault rifle.
The shooting occurred outside a West Side home Sunday evening as children were trick-or-treating in the area, APD Chief Ray Schultz said.
"It was a very crowded neighborhood, and this had the potential to be very dangerous," the chief said. "The officers were faced with no other option than the use of deadly force."
APD officers have shot 13 people so far in 2010, killing nine of them.
In Sunday's incident, officers were investigating a report that someone driving a gray Jeep Cherokee had struck four parked cars in a residential Northwest Albuquerque neighborhood, Schultz said. Witnesses provided officers a description of the vehicle and a license plate number.
Police traced the plate to a home in the 6500 block of Tierra Prieta NW. Officers knocked on the door of the residence and heard someone inside but didn't get an answer.
Schultz said a radio dispatcher then called the home and told the man who answered to go outside, empty handed, and speak to the officers.
When the man came out he was carrying an assault rifle, and ignored the officers' commands to drop it.
"One officer then discharged his firearm, striking the subject several times," Schultz said.
The 37-year-old man was transported to University of New Mexico Hospital where he died, Schultz said. He said the man and the officers involved in the incident would not be identified Sunday, but said the officers will be put on a standard three-day leave.
Schultz said it appeared there was a Jeep Cherokee in the garage of the home on Tierra Prieta NW, but police were waiting for a search warrant to find out if it was the one that had hit the parked cars earlier.
Albuquerque police have faced criticism for the increase in officer-involved shootings this year. There were six officer-involved shootings last year, five in 2008 and 11 in 2007.
Grand juries have cleared officers in two of this year's 13 shootings. Schultz said APD Internal Affairs investigations are ongoing in 12 of them.
"We continue to see a trend of people armed with deadly weapons assaulting officers. It's obviously very disturbing we continue to see this trend," Schultz said.
APD policy states that officers should use equal force in life-threatening situations.
Schultz has said it appears many of this year's cases have involved situations that escalated quickly, giving officers little choice but to shoot. Many of the cases, Schultz said, involved assaults on the officers.
He said officers are trained in nonlethal force, including Tasers and beanbag guns, but those tools are not always feasible or appropriate.
Schultz said a multi-jurisdictional officer-involved-shooting team will investigate Sunday's shooting, along with APD's own internal affairs team, and the Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office will review the facts of the case and determine if it should proceed to a grand jury.