Friday, March 04, 2011
Officer Got Personal Texts After Shooting
By Jeff Proctor
Copyright © 2011 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer
Minutes after Albuquerque police Detective Trey Economidy III fatally shot Jacob Mitschelen last month, he received a text message on his personal cell phone.
It was from Chris Ramirez, chief spokesman for Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry.
Ramirez said in an interview that he exchanged several texts with Economidy, whom he described as a longtime friend.
"This was just me thinking about my friend," Ramirez said. "I was giving him support, which I think is just human nature when your friend is in trouble."
But Police Chief Ray Schultz, who learned about the texts from a Journal reporter, said they constitute at the very least a departure from APD practice.
"Normally what happens is the officer is sequestered and assigned a buddy officer," the chief said. "We do allow them to call a parent or spouse, but there should be no other calls or text messages.
"We want real, firsthand, nonadulterated information for a very impartial investigation. That's what the public demands, and that's what I demand. If someone is having other conversations with anybody, that's a concern. If it's with another city employee, it's really a concern, and I will make this an issue in this case."
Schultz said there is no department policy that says an officer's cell phone must be taken away after a shooting. "But after learning this, we may have to look at changing our policies," he said.
Ramirez read the text messages to a Journal reporter.
Most of them consisted of Ramirez offering support and Economidy thanking him. For example, one text Ramirez sent said: "Call me after all is over ... You're in for a long night," Ramirez said.
Economidy shot Mitschelen, 29, in a parking lot near San Pedro and Kathryn SE around 8 p.m. Feb. 9.
Mitschelen fled on foot after Economidy pulled him over for an expired license plate, according to police. A gun fell out of Mitschelen's clothing. He picked up the weapon and pointed it at Economidy, who fired an undetermined number of shots.
Police said there was no bullet in the gun's chamber, but Mitschelen had two loaded magazines in his possession.
Police officials later learned Economidy may not have been qualified on the .45-caliber handgun he used to shoot Mitschelen. That question and a Facebook posting in which Economidy listed his occupation as "human waste disposal" are part of an Internal Affairs investigation.
A departmentwide review of all officers' weapons qualifications concluded this week, and Schultz said no other officers appeared to be carrying guns they aren't qualified to use.