On November 5, Officer Nicholas Steward and his partner were responding to reports of a car crashing into a center median on Tramway near Menaul. On Friday, at a press conference, APD said while trying to get the driver out of the car, things escalated.
According to APD, Officer Steward’s partner shouted to him that the driver, 21-year-old Julian Sanchez, had a gun. Officer steward said he saw the gun himself, and when he told Sanchez to put the gun down, he thought he heard Sanchez shoot his weapon and point it at him.
That’s when Officer Steward reportedly shot Sanchez several times. The passenger in the car told police, prior to the shooting, he and Sanchez were drinking and gambling at Sandia Casino. It was around 2:30 in the morning when they crashed into the median.
This case is going to the Force Review Board. Police Chief Harold Medina explained the department will take recommendations from the board on how officers can better deal with these situations.
“Our next step is looking to see how we could look at situations and react differently to the situation and remove the factor, a little bit of the fact that the individual is armed,” Chief Medina said.
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Sanchez died at the scene. Police did later find a gun from the car in between the driver’s seat and center console, but a review of the gun from the vehicle shows the weapon was not fired during this incident, but say further testing will be conducted.
Officer Steward has been with APD since 2020 and has not yet returned to work.
Chief Medina said this is still an ongoing investigation, and it has not been determined if Officer Steward violated department policies.