Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Police Not Aware of Danger
By Rozanna M. Martinez
Journal Staff Writer
A couple of calm exchanges between a dispatcher and a man involved in a hit-and-run crash involving several vehicles on Sunday didn't lead Albuquerque police to believe they were dealing with someone extremely dangerous.
"You can hear from the calls that there is nothing to alert officers," Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said during a news conference Monday. "There was nothing disturbing in his voice."
But the tone soon changed Sunday evening when Alexei Valerevitch Sinkevitch, 37, came out of his northwest Albuquerque home with an assault rifle that he had converted to a .22 caliber firearm.
The butt of the firearm was tucked under Sinkevitch's arm and he had the weapon pointed straight out in front of him, according to Schultz. Albuquerque Police officer David Sprague, who works swing shift in the northwest area command, ordered Sinkevitch to put the weapon down, but Sinkevitch did not comply and instead pointed the weapon at officers.
Sprague then fired, striking Sinkevitch, who was taken to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where he died. Sprague, who has been with APD since 2008, was put on a standard three-day leave following the shooting. The shooting is under investigation.
It was later found that Sinkevitch's weapon was not loaded and that he held the bullets in his hand.
The incident was a possible "suicide by police officer" because of the way Sinkevitch was holding his firearm, Schultz said.
Sinkevitch had issues with alcohol as well as a history of depression spanning about 20 years, Schultz said. He had attempted suicide in the past. He had prior arrests for DWI, domestic violence and refusing to obey a police officer, according to Schultz.
It was unknown whether Sinkevitch was intoxicated on Sunday. Police are awaiting toxicology results from the Office of the Medical Investigator.
Police had gone to Sinkevitch's home to follow up on about four 911 calls regarding a Jeep that had struck a number of vehicles along Estrella Brillante NW about 3:45 p.m.
Callers took down the license plate and reported it. Police traced the vehicle to Sinkevitch's home in the 6500 block of Tierra Prieta NW and tried to make contact with him by telephone.
On Monday, police released the recordings of two short conversations a dispatcher had with Sinkevitch.
"My vehicle is perfectly fine," Sinkevitch is heard telling the dispatcher on the first call. The dispatcher then tells him that officers would like to speak with him to check if he is OK.
After Sinkevitch failed to come outside, the dispatcher called again, and Sinkevitch explained he had to put his dogs outside. The dispatcher explained he need not fuss with the animals and told him to go outside to speak with officers with nothing in his hands.
But Sinkevitch instead came out with a firearm.
"Adding to it, it was Halloween evening, a neighborhood full of young families, kids already out starting to trick-or-treat," Schultz said. "It had the potential to be very, very violent. ... We know that (type of rifle) can go through a vehicle. The officer had to make a split-second decision."