ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Civilian Police Oversight Agency has recommended an Albuquerque police officer be suspended for an accidental shooting that left a random man wounded.
An Albuquerque Police Department burglary investigation took a dramatic turn on December 14, 2014 at an apartment complex off East Central. Officer Tamas Nadas crawled through an upstairs broken window, but he stumbled, and his gun accidentally went off.
“One male in apartment, the one below…it looks like he’s got blood on his neck. I can’t see what it’s from,” an officer announced over the radio.
That blood turned out to be injuries from taking a bullet. It had gone from the upstairs apartment down to the apartment where Ramiro Armendariz was getting water when he was struck by the bullet.
He said it felt like an electric shock.
The Civilian Police Oversight Agency has now finished its review. Executive Director Edward Harness has recommended Officer Nadas be suspended for 88 hours, emphasizing the department’s firearms safety rules, adding emphasis to the following: “Keep your finger off the trigger unless your sights are on target and you’ve made the decision to fire.”
The probe also questioned why an APD sergeant ordered the officers to do a “protective sweep” of the apartment so soon in the burglary investigation, calling it a “warrantless search.”
“But for this out-of-policy search, the officer would have never been in the position to discharge his weapon and injure the innocent victim,” Harness wrote.
The report also recommends APD review its Internal Affairs investigation, saying that report had some wrong information about suspects in the burglarized apartment.
The chief can discard the suggested punishment of an 88-hour suspension.
“The December 14 case is still under review by the chain of command, and APD will promptly respond to the Police Oversight Board in writing upon completion of that process,” said Celina Espinoza, APD’s communications and community outreach director.
Armendariz told KRQE News 13 in an interview after taking the bullet in December 2014, he wasn’t mad at the officer, but he was just glad to be home with his family in time for Christmas.
If you’re thinking this sounds like a slam dunk lawsuit, online court records show Armendariz did not sue APD.