ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque police detective who fired his gun while trying to arrest a suspected car thief has been fired. The officer’s shot didn’t hit the suspect, but an internal investigation found he shouldn’t have been shooting his gun in the first place.
Officers were responding to reports of a stolen car back in April. Two of them fired their weapons, but only Jerry Arnold was terminated last month.
“Detective Lujan stated that he also observed the subject reach into his pocket and pull something small out that he believed was a small black handgun,” said Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock said during a press conference in May. “The male then quickly extended his arm while yelling at Detective Lujan. [The] detective fired his weapon at the subject, striking him. Detective Arnold also fired his weapon, but struck a vehicle causing only property damage.”
APD says on April 12, a man later identified as Shannon Candelario, was spotted driving a stolen red Chevy Volt. After a chase, officers followed him to the parking lot of the Motel 6 on east Central.
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Officers tried to arrest him, but they say he put his hand in the pocket of his hoodie — and pulled something out. That’s when officers fired their weapons. Detective Lujan hit Candelario in the stomach. He survived his injuries.
APD’s internal investigation found Detective Lujan’s actions to be justified because he thought Candelario was holding a gun. In the end – Candelario was actually holding a key fob. Even though Arnold’s shots didn’t hit Candelario, according to APD’s investigation, he still violated the use of force policy. The IA found Arnold fired his weapon without identifying a threat for himself.
The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office is still investigating to see if Arnold should face any criminal charges for the shooting. He’d been with the department for nine years, however, the shooting was Arnold’s first shooting according to APD.
In a statement, APD Chief Harold Medina said the department is working to transition Arnold into a civilian position, adding he still has value to the department and was in good standing prior to the shooting.