Just one day after two Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officers were charged with murder for the shooting of James Boyd, New Mexico’s largest city recorded its first fatal officer-involved shooting of the new year.
The latest shooting brings the number of officer-involved shootings since 2010 to 42, with 29 fatalities.
The shooting took place Wednesday evening, after police received a report of “suspicious activity” in Northeast Albuquerque. The officers encountered two men and took one into custody, and another fled on foot. In the ensuing chase, up to 16 shots were fired, according to witnesses.
“They were instant back-to-back rapid fires. You know, boom, boom, boom,” witness Steven Rogers told local news station KOAT 7.
The fleeing man was shot, and died, as he ducked into an alley, according to police. APD claimed that the man, whose identity has not been disclosed, fired first and that a gun was found near his body. Police also said that he was wearing body armor.
No officers were seriously injured, an APD deputy chief told reporters. The two officers, whose names were not released, have been placed on paid leave. The shooting was captured on a body camera, but the footage is not being released. APD also said that another man was injured, but not by police gunfire.
On Monday, the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque, New Mexico, filed murder charges against APD officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez, who shot and killed James Boyd, a mentally ill homeless man, on March 27, 2014. Prior to the filing, Brandenburg had never brought charges against any APD officers in scores of officer-involved shootings during her fourteen-year tenure.
After Tuesday’s shooting, a District Attorney prosecutor was barred from entering a police meeting discussing the investigation into the shooting. APD Chief Deputy District Attorney Kathryn Levy told the prosecutor that the police “wouldn’t be needing any legal advice or help” and that the prosecutor “could go home.”
Local news called the DA’s exclusion from the meeting “an unprecedented move by city of Albuquerque officials.” Brandenberg said in a telephone interview, “I have never seen anything like this. Ever. Clearly, this could compromise the integrity of the investigation of this shooting.”
Last year, a Justice Department investigation found that Albuquerque police officers “often use unreasonable physical force,” with the mentally ill and handicapped being targeted in particular.
There have been two officer-involved shooting incidents in Albuquerque already this year, although Tuesday’s was the first fatal one. On Friday, during a $60 narcotics sting involving two undercover officers, an APD lieutenant shot one plainclothes officer with multiple rounds and grazed the other. The former is in the hospital in critical condition.