Wednesday, March 09, 2011
APD: Officer Not Qualified To Use Weapon
By Jeff Proctor
Copyright © 2011 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer
Albuquerque Police officials on Tuesday confirmed that APD Detective Trey Economidy was not qualified on the .45 calibre Kimber handgun he used to fatally shoot Jacob Mitschelen last month.
Economidy "had not completed the qualification course for that gun, which was his personal weapon," not a department-issued firearm, APD Deputy Chief Paul Feist told the Journal on Tuesday evening.
That's a violation of APD policy, which states officers can carry personal firearms on the job, but only if they have passed a qualification test.
"There are a lot of things wrong with this story — with the qualification issue and the Facebook comments — but the shooting itself appears to be the one thing that is OK."
Feist was referring to a comment Economidy posted on his Facebook page in which he listed his occupation as "human waste disposal," prompting a departmentwide review of officers' activity on social networking websites and, ultimately, a new policy for APD personnel who use such sites.
Economidy, a gang unit officer, said he pulled over a car Mitschelen was driving near San Pedro and Kathryn SE about 8 p.m. on Feb. 9, but the 29-year-old Mitschelen got out of the vehicle and fled on foot.
Mitschelen stumbled, and a gun fell out of his clothing, Economidy told investigators.
Feist said Tuesday that Mitschelen reached for the gun while he was on the ground. Economidy, he said, ordered Mitschelen not to touch the weapon.
But Mitschelen grabbed the gun anyway, Feist said. Economidy continued to give commands, which Mitschelen ignored.
Finally, Feist said, Mitschelen began to stand up with the gun in his hand.
"At that point, the threat was immediate, so (Economidy) began firing," he said.
According to an autopsy report by the Office of the Medical Investigator, Mitschelen suffered two shots to the left side of his back and one to his left buttock.
Feist said that is consistent with the statement Economidy gave investigators, in which he described having taken a position behind Mitschelen and to his left.
"It was a fluid situation where they were both moving," Feist said. "The shots struck him right at the line where the back ends and the side begins, and (the bullets) traveled from left to right."
He said OMI staff told him Mitschelen's wounds were "not consistent with someone who was running away."
Economidy is on desk duty while criminal and Internal Affairs investigations continue.