ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The family of a man shot by a neighbor in a northwest Albuquerque neighborhood says he was murdered.
They say the man who shot 23-year-old Jonathan Mitchell was trying to play cop – and ended up gunning down a veteran.
Police say residents in the Ventana Ranch neighborhood called 911 after Mitchell was seen standing in a neighbor's driveway holding a gun. The neighbors also called neighbor Donnie Pearson for assistance. Pearson later pulled in front of Mitchell's house and the two exchanged gunfire – with Mitchell firing first. Mitchell died from the gunshot wound.
"This case almost mirrors the George Zimmerman case," said Aaron Mitchell, Jonathan's older brother and a Florida police officer. "[Pearson] had no business driving around looking for an armed assailant. That's not his job."
APD's helicopter caught the shooting Tuesday night. They haven't yet released the video to News 13, but Jonathan Mitchell's family has seen it – and they say it shows the neighbor was looking for Mitchell.
Mitchell's brother Aaron Mitchell, a police officer in Florida, says APD was too quick to portray Pearson as a Good Samaritan.
"My brother did fire first. But he fired because he saw a threat. He's military trained. He's a combat veteran," he said.
The family doesn't know why Mitchell would have been in the neighbor's driveway with a gun.
"I think if those concerns were valid, I think a reasonable thing for a citizen to do is to call those who are sworn to protect, not take matters into their own hands," his father Isaac said.
Mitchell's younger brother witnessed the gunshot exchange.
"I was sleeping. Jonathan comes in the house and tells me that someone is following him. Someone is circling around the property very slowly and he needs help," he said.
He says the two went down to the open garage, where they saw Pearson pull up in front of their driveway. Mitchell fired first.
"The window's already down. My brother shoots - and then you hear another shot. It was almost simultaneous," Benjamin said. "The other gun had to have been pointing at him. There's no other explanation for how he could pull a gun, load it, chamber a round and shoot back in less than a second."
From there he says they ran through their own house and into a neighbor's backyard – where Jonathan died.
Benajamin says he was cuffed and detained for seven hours – with no medical attention, bathroom or phone call for hours.
"My brother did fire first. But he fired because he saw a threat," Aaron said. "He's military trained. He's a combat veteran."
APD, Donnie Pearson and Pearson's attorney all declined to talk to News 13.
APD will turn the results of its investigation over to the DA for a decision on charges.
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