The hunt is still on for a man who rammed a police car on the highway – while flooring it in reverse. The officer felt so threatened he started firing at the driver through his own windshield.
It happened in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve.
“Shots fired, shots fired. He hit me with his vehicle,” the officer can be heard saying on his lapel video.
Jal Police say 24-year-old Angel Rodriguez Jr. was behind the wheel.
They were called to help Texas officers as the chase headed north on Highway 18 and into southeast New Mexico.
“He’s slowing down now. He’s stopping in the middle of the road,” said the officer.
“One of those unfortunate things where it seems like the suspect is trying to get away at any means possible,” said Chief Mauricio Valeriano.
In his report, the officer says he tried to get out of Rodriguez Jr.’s way.
“Fifteen Jal, he’s coming at me,” said the officer.
He put his police car in reverse, but says he was about to go off the road.
Police had heard from three underage girls who were with Rodriguez Jr. in Texas that he was armed. The officer says he feared for his life, so he fired five rounds through his windshield at the truck.
The truck took off again, but the chase was called off a short time later when the driver stopped on a hill, gaining the upper hand.
“He blacked out. I need to wait for more units to get here until I go in. I don’t want him to ambush me,” said the officer.
“It’s always safer to take out warrants for this person and not push a fight, you know, more than we need to and get officers injured or get someone from the public potentially injured,” said Valeriano.
They don’t believe Rodriguez Jr. was injured in the chase. The officer who fired on him was shaken up.
Valeriano says the last police shooting in the small town of 2,000 was three years ago.
“(It’s) unfortunate any time you have to discharge your weapon, but it happened and we believe he did everything by the book,” he said. “We didn’t catch the guy, but he will be in custody, I’m sure.”
Jal Police say they found the stolen truck a few hours later, on fire. They say Rodriguez Jr. torched it by setting the owner’s manual on fire on the front seat.
KRQE News 13 is told Rodriguez Jr. has an extensive criminal history.
He’s now wanted in New Mexico for assaulting that Jal Police officer, as well as for arson and for the chase.