ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A judge has released the man accused of opening fire and shooting a protester. Police say Steven Baca is the man seen on video opening fire at last Monday’s protest regarding a statue of conquistador Juan De Oñate, sending one man to the hospital. Much of the District Attorney’s case was centered around 10 primary witness videos, one of which shows the moments leading up to Baca firing his gun.
While Baca is most known for firing shots, he is not currently facing any charges for it. Baca is facing aggravated battery and two battery charges for allegedly assaulting three female protestors.
Police initially charged Baca for the shooting, but the District Attorney dropped that charge pending further investigation. Baca’s attorneys have argued he fired his gun in self-defense because he was being hit with a skateboard.
In court, Monday, the District Attorney’s office argued that Baca was only at the protest to start trouble. However, with no criminal history and the state not yet finding any of the women Baca is accused of hurting, Judge Charles Brown released him on his own recognizance.
Monday, Judge Brown released Baca with pre-trial services. “I’m going to find that the defendant may be a danger to the community and that the state completely fails on the second prong of the analysis of whether or not there were any conditions which would reasonably protect the community,” said Judge Brown. He has been banned from attending any protests and using firearms.
Brown told Baca is was “stupid” to bring a gun to a protest. Baca did not have a concealed carry permit at the time of the shooting. He is also facing charges for that.
Attorneys for the man allegedly shot by Baca said this following Monday’s hearing:
The right to gather and air political grievances is foundational. If our government does not stand behind people exercising their First Amendment rights who are harmed and cedes protection of our First Amendment rights to armed militia, we’ve lost our way, and we will all be less safe as a result.
It is inexcusable that the district attorney has not yet charged Mr. Baca with shooting Mr. Williams. He has all the evidence he needs to do so. It is well established that anyone who provokes an encounter and as a result of which finds it necessary to use deadly force is guilty of an unlawful homicide and cannot claim they were acting in self-defense. Mr. Baca repeatedly battered protestors without provocation and thirty seconds after pushing a woman to the ground so hard she was in the fetal position, Mr. Baca shot Mr. Williams in the back when Mr. Williams tried to disarm him. Mr. Baca is dangerous and should not be out of custody. The family demands the district attorney charge Mr. Baca with his obvious crime immediately.