Wednesday, April 13, 2011
City Police Kill Son of County Official
By Jeff Proctor And Rozanna Martinez
Copyright © 2011 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writers
The adult son of a top Bernalillo County official was fatally shot by police who were attempting to serve a warrant for his arrest at the family's northwest Albuquerque home on Tuesday afternoon, officials said.
Christopher Torres, 27, was shot at least once during a heated struggle with officers from the APD's Northeast Impact Team in the back yard of the Torres family's Taylor Ranch home on the 7600 block of Sunrose NW, according to police.
Torres, who has a recent history of trouble with the law and possible mental health issues, is the son of Renetta Torres, deputy county manager for administrative services.
County spokeswoman Tia Bland confirmed Tuesday evening that it was Christopher Torres who was shot by police.
"The son of one of our employees has been killed," Bland said in the hall, outside a County Commission meeting. "Renetta Torres and her family are certainly in our thoughts and prayers at this time."
Renetta Torres was the longtime Human Resources director for the county. In July, she was promoted to deputy county manager.
Detectives from APD's Impact Team had gone to serve a warrant on Christopher Torres that stemmed from a road rage incident that occurred in the last week, police officials said.
In that incident, Christopher Torres had been driving in Albuquerque when he came to a stop light, police said. He got out of his vehicle, approached a woman who was also stopped at the light and tore open the driver's side door of her vehicle.
Christopher Torres then tried to pull the woman from her vehicle, police said, but she was able to get away. The woman called police and gave them Torres' license plate number, prompting APD to issue a warrant for his arrest.
The Impact Team, among other duties, is often tasked with serving felony warrants. The warrant served on Christopher Torres had been signed by a judge on Tuesday.
The traffic incident was not Christopher Torres' only run-in with the law this year. On Feb. 20, Torres, claiming to be a federal agent, attacked a man with a gun at Garcia's Kitchen in Taylor Ranch, police said.
Jose Garcia, 34, was eating with his family when Torres began shouting that he was a DEA agent, according to police and court records. Torres then attacked Garcia.
Garcia was carrying the pistol in a hip holster in plain view, and during the struggle it fell out, police said. Other customers managed to subdue Torres and secured Garcia's gun.
Christopher Torres "was screaming about satellites observing us, and how everyone was a 'carbon copy' but that he was 'flesh and bone'" when officers arrived on scene, court records state.
Torres told officers that he watched movies such as "Terminator 2" for "messages" and that he was on medication for schizophrenia, court records state.
Garcia was charged with carrying a gun in a liquor establishment and booked into the West Side jail, court records state.
Torres was charged with public affray, battery, disorderly conduct and impersonating a law enforcement officer.
Police said he was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation before being booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center.
As of Tuesday, that case was being evaluated in one of Metropolitan Court's specialty divisions to determine whether Torres was competent to stand trial, court spokeswoman Janet Blair said.
Tuesday's incident marked the city's second officer-involved shooting this year. In February, APD Gang Unit Detective Trey Economidy fatally shot Jacob Mitschelen after a traffic stop in southeast Albuquerque.
Also, in March, a man died after being shocked by police with a stun gun.
In 2010, there were 14 officer-involved shootings in Albuquerque. Nine of those were fatal.
Police were tight-lipped about the details of Tuesday's shooting.
Deputy Police Chief Beth Paiz said a confrontation ensued after officers arrived to serve the warrant around 2 p.m. and at least one officer fired shots.
Torres was pronounced dead at the scene, Paiz said.
None of the officers involved in the incident was identified. Officials said none of the officers was injured.
Police said at least one officer fired shots, but could not confirm how many shots were fired, how many officers were present at the time of the shooting or whether the suspect had a weapon.
Investigators continued to interview witnesses and collect evidence following the shooting.
Numerous Albuquerque police units, SUVs, an armored SWAT truck and a fire truck lined each side of Sunrose NW and remained on scene several hours after the shooting.
Officers were still attempting to determine if anyone else was in the house as late as 6 p.m., and neighbors weren't being allowed to leave or enter their homes. A flash-bang grenade was thrown into the house about 6:15 p.m.
Meanwhile, an officer responding to the scene was involved in a crash at Second and Montaño NW, according to APD spokesman Rob Gibbs.
The officer approached the intersection with emergency lights and sirens engaged and was attempting to drive west through the intersection, Gibbs said. A southbound vehicle failed to stop and T-boned the officer's squad car.
The impact caused the officer's vehicle to collide with several other vehicles waiting to turn north onto Fourth Street from eastbound Montaño, Gibbs said. The officer was treated for a minor cut to his head.
Four vehicles were towed from the scene.
Journal Staff Writers Dan McKay and Astrid Galvan contributed to this report