Man connected to deadly hit-and-run arrested again in new police chase

KRQE Investigates

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – He’s been in trouble with the law again and again. Juan Ramirez pleaded guilty to stealing a truck that police suspect he may have been driving when an Albuquerque teen was killed in a hit and run.

Now, KRQE News 13 obtained police video showing Juan Ramirez’s latest run-in with officers. Video shows Ramirez speed away from an officer during an attempted traffic stop and cause a crash.


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May 10 just after 3 p.m. near Carlisle and Candelaria, a New Mexico State Police officer ran the plates of a white Hyundai. The plates didn’t match the car. The officer turned on his lights and sirens, but the driver, later identified as 32-year-old Juan Ramirez, doesn’t stop. A slow pursuit continued through a neighborhood before Ramirez decided to rev the engine.

Video shows Ramirez speed away on Carlisle. The officer called off the pursuit due to safety concerns on a busy road. However, moments later, the officer rolled up to a crash. Ramirez had slammed into a truck turning onto Carlisle.

At this point, Ramirez gave up. “Keep coming! Lay on the floor!” The officer shouted commands at Ramirez to walk backward.

In this crash, no one was killed. “Why did you guys run?” The officer asked. “I don’t know,” Ramirez’s passenger replied.

Ramirez’s passenger was hurt. “His bone popped out he’s saying, your passenger,” the officer told Ramirez.

The officer would learn Ramirez is on probation. He has a long criminal history dating back nearly a decade involving drugs, police chases, burglary, and car thefts. In July of 2019, Albuquerque Police said he stole a truck from the Drury Inn.

The night officers tried pulling over that stolen truck, the truck didn’t stop. Albuquerque Police officers said they called off the pursuit once the driver sped away.

“I took one look at him and then all of a sudden, I just see this truck zoom by,” a witness told officers the night of the July crash. “After that, I didn’t see anything. Just his shoes on the ground.”

Manny Tapia was 15-years-old when he was hit and killed while walking home from the Cottonwood Mall that night. Tapia’s mom, Dionne Harding, is living through the aftermath.

“He worked at the mall, he went to Cibola High School, and we lived just a few blocks away, so he walked that route several times that summer,” Harding said.

The driver who killed her son got away. And since the police could never prove who was behind the wheel when Tapia was killed, Ramirez never faced charges for Tapia’s death.

“I believe that this person is a habitual criminal,” Harding said of Ramirez. Ramirez was given a plea deal and sentenced to two years in jail for the stolen truck. With time served, he was released in December.

Then in April, court documents show Ramirez violated probation. Records show he tested positive for methamphetamine and admitting to using heroin to his probation officer.


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However, he wasn’t sent back to jail for the probation violation. It wasn’t until the crash a couple of weeks ago that Ramirez is back in custody.

“What a criminal in this city can actually get away with multiple times, multiple,” said Harding. “It is systematic and he’s not the only one.”

Ramirez also caught a break a couple of years ago after he was arrested for burglarizing an elderly woman’s home in Placitas. The Sandoval County District Attorney’s Office dropped the charges after the victim passed away last year.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office told KRQE News 13 they’re moving to revoke Ramirez’s probation. He’s currently in state custody and a hearing is set for next month. The District Attorney’s Office sent KRQE News 13 the following message via email on Wednesday:

“Juan Ramirez was transferred from Metropolitan Detention Center to the state Department of Corrections on May 17. He was not released to the public and will remain in custody until his parole violation hearing and his probation violation hearing. The probation violation hearing is June 9, and at the hearing, the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office intends to present evidence to support the revocation of his probation. The Department of Corrections will be able to provide more information about the parole violation process. There is no new information in regards to the 2019 incident as it is still an ongoing investigation.”

Lauren Rodriguez, Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office

Tapia’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Albuquerque Police, claiming officers failed to follow procedure in pursuit of the truck the night the teen was killed. An APD spokesperson sent KRQE News 13 the following statement on Wednesday:

Due to pending litigation, we cannot discuss details of the investigation. We are still actively investigating the hit and run. We did not locate the stolen truck but if we do locate it, it would certainly be a valuable piece of evidence.

Rebecca Atkins, APD Communications Specialist

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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