ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Two different Albuquerque Police (APD) shooting cases were the subject of an APD news conference Tuesday, with investigators releasing new video and discussing details about what happened. One of the police shooting cases happened after officers witnessed a murder in a downtown parking lot, while the other police shooting happened at a westside gas station, resulting in the death of 27-year-old Keshawn Thomas.
In the the August 22 shooting, Albuquerque Police says Sgt. Harold Sennett fired his weapon after a man shot and killed 21-year-old Melina Jones. APD says the man who killed Jones ran from the shooting scene. He was not identified by police Tuesday and no further details about the victim were provided at the news conference.
APD however did confirm that they do not believe the male suspect was hit by police gunfire during officers response. Anyone with information in the case is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 843-STOP.
Fatal Gas Station Shooting
The second shooting discussed resulted in the death of 27-year-old Keshawn Thomas. APD says it happened on Sunday, August 28, at the Valero gas station on Coors and Quail after officers were called to the gas station for a report of a man unconscious inside of a Dodge Charger. The car was found parked near a gas pump.
The driver, Thomas, was contacted by officers who thought he was intoxicated. APD says officers found Thomas inside the green car, appearing to be asleep, noting “a possible open container of alcohol” in the center console.
“Since the car was not on, [officers] determined they could not conduct a DWI investigation, but would wake the driver and have him or her call a ride home,” APD Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock said. “After they contacted the driver, who was Keshawn Thomas, he exits the vehicle and a dialogue between Thomas and officer began.”
Three officers spoke to Thomas for roughly ten minutes, according to APD. Video shows Thomas at some point sitting on a curb, smoking a cigarette. During that conversation, APD says Thomas told officers he was intoxicated, but officers chose to release him. Officers were said to have told Thomas he could call someone to pick him and his car up.
The shooting occurred after Thomas returned to his vehicle with officers permission, asking to get a cell phone. Officers agreed to let Thomas go back to the car. Before arriving at the car, video shows Thomas telling officers he had a gun in the trunk of the car, while handing a loaded ammunition magazine to one of the officers.
The shooting happened as video shows Thomas appearing to search through his car. Tuesday, the department showed video of the moments before and during the shooting. At the time of the shooting, APD says an officer had moved closer to the car to watch what Thomas was doing.
“Officer Flores stepped closed to watch the inside of the car, and stated he saw, in his interviews later on, a gun in the right hand of Thomas,” Hartsock said. “In the video, you’ll see Officer Flores yells, ‘gun gun gun’ and stated that Thomas started to tilt the gun toward him when he made the decision to fire.”
APD Chief Harold Medina said of the shooting Tuesday that officers could have better communicated before the shooting. Responding to questions from reporters, he said at certain points in the incident, it seemed as if officers “became frustrated” with Thomas.
“I know at times dealing with intoxicated individuals, it becomes difficult, and you get frustrated,” Medina said. “I think to me, there was a sense of frustration at certain points, at time during the entirety of the [event], I think we could be better at controlling our frustrations and the way that we communicate with individuals.”
All three officers fired their guns at Thomas, who was pronounced dead at a hospital. APD says the three officers involved include, Officer Flores and Officer Ketchum who started with APD in 2021. The third officer, Officer Skeens has been with APD since 2018. The three officers have not been involved in any prior police shooting cases. APD did not release the first names of the officers during Tuesday’s news conference.