ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Police Department has released new video and information surrounding a fatal police shooting that took place along 4th Street earlier this month. APD says two officers fired their guns, killing a suspected car thief after the suspect tried to run from officers with a gun in his hand.
The shooting happened on February 1 in the parking lot of the Court John Motel along 4th Street near Menaul. A male suspect, 31-year old Devin Morris, was killed after two of three responding APD officers opened fire.
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Police played a 911 call during Thursday’s briefing, showing the incident started with an Albuquerque man telling dispatchers that he found his neighbor’s stolen truck. “I know it’s his truck, 100 percent,” the 911 caller told police dispatchers.
APD says the man who reported seeing the stolen truck was at the Maverick gas station, seeing the truck parked across the street at the nearby Casa Bonita apartment complex. The man reported a suspect “passed out” in the driver’s seat of the stolen truck
Police say as officers went to approach the stolen truck, the suspect began driving the truck out of the apartment complex parking lot, leading the truck on to Montgomery, then I-25. APD Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock said Thursday officers on the ground “followed without emergency lights engaged” in an effort to let the truck safely stop and allow officers to take the suspect into custody.
APD says officers also used a helicopter to track the suspect to an area nearby the Court John Motel on 4th Street in northwest Albuquerque, where the suspect parked the truck. Uniformed officers followed the suspect to the parking lot of the Court John Motel as they say the suspect tried to get on and start a motorcycle.
“A foot chase started,” said Hartsock said Thursday. “As the male attempted to be physically controlled, he pulled a firearm out of his pocket and an officer involved shooting occurred.”
Police video played Thursday showed officers shouting “stop” and identifying themselves as police as they attempted to stop Morris in the parking lot. Video shows Morris attempted to run into an apartment before officers closed in on him.
“After Mr. Morris ran from officers and ignored their commands to surrender, he rams into a motel door, which does not open,” Hartsock said. While in the parking lot, one officer fired a Taser electronic control weapon at Morris as another officer tried to hold the suspect.
“Officer Garza grabs Mr. Morris from behind as Officer Gomez deploys his Taser on Mr. Morris,” Hartsock said. “The firearm in the right hand of Morris becomes instantly recognizable to both officers, and Mr. Morris continues to resist and ignore commands to surrender.”
As the Taser had no effect and the scuffle ensued, video shows Morris broke free from the officer trying to hold him back, while carrying a gun in his hand. As Morris ran away from officers with a gun in his hand, two officers opened fire. Morris died on scene from his injuries.
No police officers were injured in the shooting. APD says officers Charles Miller and Ramiro Garza fired their weapons. Both officers, who were hired in 2008, have since returned to regular duty. Neither had been involved in any police shootings prior to the February 1 incident.
APD said Thursday it believes the suspect was high on meth the day of the shooting. However, the department says it is still waiting on the results from a toxicology report.
Addressing the video of the shooting, showing Morris was shot in the back by officers, APD Chief Harold Medina acknowledged, “without a doubt, there is a truth in that.”
“But the truth in that, is that individual was armed with a firearm, was fleeing officers and endangered not only officers but the community,” Medina said. “In a way, it is truthful what individuals are saying, but it’s the facts of the case that change the whole dynamic.”
The shooting remains under investigation by the Multi-Agency Taskforce. When asked if he felt it was fair to say Morris was “a threat,” Chief Medina said in part, the department needs to look at the shooting from “top to bottom.”
“Then we’ll be able to come up with a determination, administratively if officers did everything correct,” Medina said. “I think the public themselves should be able to look at this video and everybody can determine that, you know, there were bystanders there, there was a firearm, and come up with their own conclusion.”