Warning: video contains graphic content
NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Two Chaves County deputies were back at work days after they were involved in a deadly shooting. The sheriff is defending their actions, but people who have seen the lapel video have serious concerns.
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One deputy in the lapel footage is heard detailing what led him and another deputy to open fire on a Roswell man.
“As we approached him at gunpoint, he pulled something out of his pocket. He had a quick movement toward us,” he explained.
That shooting from June 27 is sparking different opinions while state police investigate.
“It looked like an execution to me,” Attorney Laura Schauer Ives stated.
“I believe it will be a justifiable shooting. The deputies did exactly as they were trained to do,” Sheriff Mike Herrington explained.
Deputies were trying to track down Oscar Najera, a domestic violence suspect who reportedly had a gun earlier in the day. Deputies found his car at a gas station and then spotted him behind a home. They drove toward him before a short foot chase, but Najera lost them.
Deputies drove to the other side of the home and told state police Najera reached for an unknown object in his waistband in a threatening way, leading the deputies to fear for their lives, according to a press release from state police.
“We do not have to wait until the gun is pointed directly at us or what we believe to be a gun to be directly pointed at us before we take action to save our lives or the lives of another,” Sheriff Herrington added.
After Najera fell to the ground, deputies saw a cell phone next to Najera who died on the scene. He was unarmed. Police say they did find a gun in his car back at the gas station later on. “This death did not need to happen,” ACLU Executive Director Peter Simonson said.
The civil rights group and a local attorney believe that the shooting was unnecessary.
“One of the things we’ve been advocating for in this state is the passage of statewide use-of-force standards that require officers to de-escalate situations to use the least amount of force necessary,” Simonson said. “It seems pretty clear in this video [deputies] were not, did not follow those kinds of best practices. This is a chronic problem throughout our state.”
“They need a change in policy, they should have a new sheriff, the deputies should be charged criminally for this,” Ives added.
The sheriff said the two deputies, Raul Ramos and Ricardo Delgado, both had three paid days off after the shooting before returning to work. After state police investigate, the case will be turned over to a district attorney’s office for review.