ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Amid the continued settlement agreement with the Department of Justice, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released a comprehensive look at the statistics behind the department’s police shooting cases over the last five years.
According to data released by APD in a news conference Thursday morning, officers have been involved in 54 shooting cases since 2018.
The presentation carried additional significance Thursday morning, as several of its officers were involved in a deadly police shooting case just hours earlier. Police said officers shot a man after he lunged at them with a knife. The case remains under investigation.
Looking at the total picture of all police shooting case over the last five years, APD said Thursday, its officers have fired weapons in 17 cases this year. That’s the most the department has ever had in one calendar year.
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Among the statistics, APD provided numbers on which area commands saw the most police shootings; if and what drugs or alcohol have been a factor in those cases; weapons or the lack of weapons that suspects had, and the total number of fatal versus non-fatal shooting cases. Among the 54 shootings in the last five years, APD says 30 have been fatal, while 24 have been non-fatal.
Thursday morning’s shooting marks the 50th police shooting in New Mexico in 2022, according to APD Chief Harold Medina, who sourced the data from New Mexico State Police. Speaking broadly of the rise in police shooting cases in 2022, Medina said he believes the rise in shootings is attributable to a national mood.
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“I think it’s related to where we are as a country, and where we are as a society right now coming out of the pandemic,” Medina said. “There’s been numerous studies about the increase in suicides, nationwide we’re seeing an increase in homicides, and we know that a lot of times its either one or the other, you’re either going to react externally, through a homicide or a possible officer-involved shooting, or you’re going to react internally through suicide or suicide by cop.”
Medina also made mention of the increase in gun ownership during 2020 and into 2021. During the pandemic, New Mexico charted a high of 24,571 background checks for firearms submitted to the FBI in March of 2020, 46% more checks than during March of 2019.
“So I think that given that those two categories are seeing increases nationwide, and that we’re seeing it at a level never before, I think that’s directly attributed to the increase in officer involved shooting,” Medina said. “You have to also look, there’s more firearms sold during the pandemic then probably any other period of time in this country.”