ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Police released new information Thursday about a police shooting that resulted in the death of an armed, suspected car thief in August. APD identified the man who was killed as 34-year old Eric Padilla of Albuquerque.
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Police shot and killed Padilla on Sunday, August 15, 2021, around 5 p.m. near the intersection of Menaul and Northeastern. The shooting happened about an hour after one of the APD officers involved in the shooting initially tried to stop a stolen car near Louisiana and Lomas.
APD says the driver of that stolen car initially drove away from an attempted traffic stop. During the attempted traffic stop, APD Officer Christopher Mings successfully attached a StarChase GPS tracking device to the suspect’s vehicle. APD says that device helped it track the vehicle to a park near Pennsylvania and Indian School, where the device was removed.
“Being familiar with the area, Officer Mings decided to go by a nearby Walmart parking lot and just kind of go through the parking lot to see if he could see the car there,” APD Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock said during Thursday’s briefing. “In that parking lot, the officer did find the same stolen car now unoccupied in a parking spot.”
APD says officers reviewed nearby surveillance video to identify a male and female suspect who exited the stolen car. The department says the suspects from the attempted traffic stop matched the suspects seen on surveillance video. The two suspects, Garcia and an unidentified woman were later found near Menaul and Northeastern Boulevard, where officers tried to speak with them.
At Thursday’s news briefing, APD showed police body camera video showing Padilla running from officers as they tried to speak to him about being searched for weapons. Video shows Albuquerque Police officers Max Denerstein and Christopher Mings spent around two minutes trying to convince Padilla to consent to a search as part of their investigation into a stolen car before Padilla ran across Menaul.
Officers ran after Padilla. During the pursuit, body camera video shows Padilla put a gun in his hand. Both officers fired their weapons as Padilla brandished the weapon.
Neither officer was hurt in the incident and both have since returned to full duty. Both Mings and Denerstein have not been involved in any prior police shootings.
“I think it’s important we remember that the situation is reviewed in its entirety,” said APD Chief Harold Medina. “We now have an individual who had no firearm in their hand, who has now elected to arm themselves with a firearm, who is still fleeing officers and who officers still have a legal objective of trying to arrest for committing a felony crime.”
It’s unclear if Padilla fired or tried to fire his weapon. A deputy commander for APD’s Criminal Investigations Division, Kyle Hartsock said during Thursday’s briefing a spent shell casing was found chambered inside the gun in his possession.
“It’s part of what we’re trying to investigate and still understand,” Hartsock said in response to the question of whether Padilla fired the weapon. “As (investigators) unloaded the gun, the casing was in there, which is unusual, but it had been fired.”
APD says the gun in Padilla possession was also used in three other shootings this summer. Those shooting cases are still under investigation. APD did not release further details about which cases the gun is said to be tied to.
The woman who was with Padilla during the shooting has not been charged with a crime at this point. APD says it is still investigating her alleged role in the case.
Viewer warning: video below contains graphic scenes of violence, graphic language.