ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It was a chaotic scene inside a center that helps the homeless, as a homeless man wielding nunchucks kept officers at bay.
“Drop it right now! Stop what you’re doing! Taser! Taser!” an Albuquerque Police officer is heard yelling at Johnny Lester in a lapel video from September 2020.
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Lester, who was wielding nunchucks while running from officers, is no stranger to APD.
“Drop it! Drop it! I’m going to f***ing shoot you!” the officer yelled. “Drop the baton! Drop the baton, bro!”
This run-in started with a traffic stop because Lester reportedly wasn’t wearing eye protection or using a turn signal on his scooter. Police said the 33-year-old eventually ditched the scooter and ran into the Albuquerque Indian Center, a nonprofit that offers food and resources for people in need near Zuni and Pennsylvania.
“Dude, listen to us, brother. We’re just trying to do a traffic stop! Listen to us!” the officer exclaimed.
“You better not follow me! Danger zone!” Lester responded.
“Drop your nunchucks. Now!” the officer said.
Lester became more and more agitated as police ramped up the threats.
“Get on the ground! Get on the ground or, you’re going to get shot,” one officer yelled.
“You guys created a hostile environment,” Lester stated.
He runs through the building filled with people, tossing tables as police hit him with a bean bag. Lester bolts, hops a wall, and runs onto East Central a block away.
“Dude, stop. We can’t let you go like this, man,” the officer exclaimed.
But Lester’s not giving up yet. He hitched a ride on the back of a pickup truck passing by, then hopped in the back of a stranger’s car, and escaped out the other door to the sound of more tasers. Police finally took him to the ground.
Online records show this felony case that happened nearly a year ago won’t move forward until a forensic evaluation determines Lester’s competency. APD has arrested him four times over the past year and a half, the other three-time for causing scenes on the sidewalks or on the street. He was waving a hatchet in one of those cases. His cases keep getting dismissed because he’s mentally ill.