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Albuquerque PD Releases Video of Controversial Camper Shooting

The Albuquerque Police Department has released video that shows the shooting of a man who was camping illegally in the Sandia Foothills. The March 16 shooting has been decried by activists in the community who have called for rallies against the police. Read Full Story Here.

March 24, 2014

Comments (49)

Displaying 1 - 49 of 49

Leonard Mather @ 3/24/2014 4:49 PM

This event exemplifies very well the need for those being confronted by LEO's to be cooperative, to NOT display attitudes of self-righteous indignation, or passive aggression. It is wise to divest one's self of weapons, to lie on the ground spread eagle fashion and to cooperate, comply and obey commands. This advice will naturally rub most liberal Wussies and Wimps the wrong way.

George @ 3/24/2014 4:52 PM

Unless this person was reported and known to be extremely dangerous there is nothing good that can be said about this. This is a sad piece of law enforcement work. SIX officers fully armed and one individual with a knife and sixty to eighty feet away. Further, while the subject was down and no loner a threat he was shot three additional times. Prepare yourself to pay a serious price.

Dave @ 3/24/2014 5:37 PM

Hate to armchair quarterback it, but, damn guys ! Suspect didn't represent a lethal threat @ that distance ! This bunch definitely needs some training. I will give them kudos for the variety of weapons they have @ their disposal in what looks like a remote and rugged area. Those borders look like pretty good cover and concealment to me. They couldn't have released the K-9 earlier. How about an earlier use of the beanbag rounds. Just,.........Wow! They seem to not value human life. All this from an initial "illegal camping" call ?

TERRY F. ZECH VAPD (RET) @ 3/24/2014 5:37 PM

George the police are there for some reason that this suspect created trespassing seemed to be a misdemeanor. Then he pulls knives on three fully armed officers and a K-9. Now how about you approach him without any weapons and ask him to leave and see how dead you become. Use your head George he should have complied not resisted. A knife wielding suspect can cover 21 ft in 2 seconds and stab you, I know I was a Field Training Officer. I am sorry for the loss of his life but he chose it not the officers.

John @ 3/24/2014 6:05 PM

Give me break about the knife that man have never been able to "close the gap"
Look at the landscape. A bunch of chicken shit wanta be cops that need to be brought up on murder charges shoot a man in his back and than shoot him with beanbag shotgun,and if you support this act you should turn in your badge in your no better than those loser cops talk about pussies.

Chuck @ 3/24/2014 6:26 PM

Were those knives in his hands or handguns? At that distance could you really tell? He was given plenty of opportunities to stop being a dumbass and he chose not to take any of them.

Stupid should hurt and I have two words that covers this whole situation: FURTIVE MOVEMENT.

Police Officer @ 3/24/2014 8:08 PM

What was the explosion that blew up prior to the shooting? Was it a flash bang? There was no reaction from the suspect that I could detect that would have made me shoot this guy. I have dealt with many suspects in my 23 year career and watching this video, I believe there could have been a better outcome. The only thing that set those Officers off was the blast from the device. I think he was more startled than the Officers. Only you guys know what really happened out there. I always say, until you wear the boots, don't criticize or judge the person wearing the boots. I just pray that your decision to shoot was justifiable and not a mistake. Taking a life is not an easy thing to live with no matter how many times you've done it. You know how the saying goes, you're innocent until proven guilty. Well not for an Officer. It's, you're guilty until proven innocent. God Bless.

George @ 3/24/2014 8:11 PM

@ John 6:05PM: Get back in your mommy's basement and stop watching those drama crime shows.

Dan Joseph @ 3/25/2014 3:31 AM

Treat others the way you would want to be treated. These officers had bean bag round but did not use them to first. This guy did not have a gun. This does not speak well for this agency. This guy was an illegal camper. What next shoot people for illegal parking. I agree there is nothing good to say about this the public has every right to be upset over this.

Rosco @ 3/25/2014 6:49 AM

Let's with an elevated position at about 20 feet (not 60 to 80) who has threatened to kill Officers while he had the Lethal means to do so (2 knives). Was given numerous opportunities to surrender peacefully. When approached by Officers in a tactical and less lethal manner (I.E. deploying a flash bang) the suspect withdrew 2 knives in a threatening manner. Suspect chose to use lethal force and was met with Lethal force. Good shoot in my book. Glad to see all of the Officers went home safe that night. I dont see how him being "just an illegal camper" has anything to do eith it but if that makes some of you feel better so be it. I would suggest that if the Police ever approach you with weapons drawn and begin giving you commands you obey 100 percxent. But pulling two knives out will get you a dose of lead all day every day.

TX Lawman @ 3/25/2014 7:17 AM

Obviously some of the persons making comments are not peace officers and know nothing about armed encounters. The officers were there to make an arrest. That's a call they made. The flash gernade was improperly deployed and they have little effect outdoors. The suspect was shot because he was holding two knives and waving them at the officers as they approached. The suspect had already told them if this was a bus stop he had the right to kill the officers. I did have a problem with which officer did the shooting. He put his own officers in danger by shooting past them. Also George, that thinks they were sixty to eighty feet away can't tell distance. They were approximately 24 feet away and to Terry Vard, that's old school distance. They have since proved that a person 30 feet away can stab you before you can pull the trigger. They were in the kill zone. I have been in many armed confrontations and I'm still around by using my head. Stay safe Blue!

SeventyEight @ 3/25/2014 8:30 AM

Let's learn from this. 1st of all the knives were not a lethal threat from the original distance. The officers chose to close that gap too early. Slow down, control the adrenaline and have the suspect move away from his loose belongings. Then, remember from basic training, have the suspect face away from you, pull up outer clothing, so as to expose his waistline. Then, with a suspect in prone position, arms out to his side, you have gained a tactical advantage. The officer with the helmet cam should not have shot lethal rounds from his field of fire. He is damn lucky he did not hit his fellow officers! Time is on your side and human life is not replaceable once it is taken. They brought plenty of options to the table.....use them effectively!

Justified @ 3/25/2014 8:31 AM

So the many who are saying he was “just an illegal camper", how about "he just rolled a stop sign" or "it was just a bag of chips". Arm-chair Quarterbacks is all everyone wants to play. A sad situation, nonetheless, the officers gave clear directives to the suspect which he failed to comply numerous times. The only negative thing that in this video and the second video that has surfaced, is the Officer shooting his weapon, behind and shifted to the left of his partners. That can be solved, by more training, which we all know; we can never have enough of. I've been doing this 9 years, I don't consider myself at pro by any means, however, if you choose to display potentially deadly force to an officer, expect it right back. If all you "just an illegal camper" men/women noticed, when the K-9 was released the suspect tossed what appeared to be either a bulky jacket or sleeping bag in the dogs direction. For all we know, how could’ve been doing this as a ploy to get to the officers.

Truth Be Told @ 3/25/2014 9:19 AM

Regardless, The man said he was going to leave then they threw the Flash Bang, Elevating the situation. The Man Started to turn to get on the ground and then the Shots were fired. Then Obviously He was Incapacitated when the Officers Moved in. Yes the Knife was in the hand but with bullet holes in you, your not going to attack an officer while on the ground and saying, "Please don't hurt me anymore" Period.
Also How is someone supposed to put his hands in the air while he's on the ground with bullet holes in him. He's Disabled at that point so there's no reason to shoot him with Bean Bags or Attack him with the Dog. He's Down. Period. Face first in pain because of the shots. The Officers could have asked him if he was able to drop the knife. If a man is being stupid at least Taze the man and be ready to Taze again or Shoot the Bean bags first instead of Real Bullets. The Officers could have handled the Situation better. What makes me furious is the acts they made after he was down.

Buster @ 3/25/2014 12:36 PM

The Officer shot from behind his partners placing them in a slightly precarious position regarding line of fire or ricochet. The distance of the suspect from the Officers was not an issue. The suspect could have initiated deadly force at any moment. A suspect with a knife (or two knives) could quickly close that distance, on a decline, even in this terrain. The stated 30ft mark for closing rates refers to a holstered weapon being drawn in time to respond to an advancing suspect. This suspect had already threatened deadly force toward the Officers and he was armed. He was considered to be a danger to the Public as well. This makes him more than just a simple "trespassing camper". Nobody can make a legitimate final judgement, one way or the other, simply by veiwing this video clip.

RetE7 @ 3/26/2014 9:11 AM

It's called a "jury of your peers". Good luck defending these actions fellas.

All of the varied levels of experience being voiced on this site interest me. From obviously next to nothing to a great deal. One thing you have to do in every situation is to put yourself in the position of everyone involved. (That's why attorneys create statements for juries, to appeal to their unique perspective.)

I have been in countless potential lethal encounters, as well as a number of actual lethal ones. Being evaluated will be, among other things, lower levels of available force not attempted and the fact that the suspect had actually turned away from, not charged at, the officers when he was shot.

I actually have very little problem with the long gun being deployed "behind" others. He had a clear line of sight and was less threat than the alleged threat of the "camper", although, he did appear to have fired due to others firing, IMO. SWAT training frequently addresses this tactic.

Legal Shoot @ 3/26/2014 9:18 AM

I think that this will be a ruled a legal shoot with no problem. Federal guidelines say that an edged weapon within 40 feet can be met with lethal force. What appears to be the subject turning to lay down right before the shots are fired, could just be a lag in the video's audio, even though the suppressed weapon was fired much later. The problem I have was that it appears like he was de-escalating the situation when he grabbed his pack and started listening to the officers. Maybe it was in the ops plan to throw the destraction device at that point, but when the suspect de-escalates then we're supposed to de-escalate also. I don't agree with the choice to throw the bang, which escalated the situation to the point where somebody had to lose/take a life. This is going to be a hard and painful situation for every party/family involved, but I'm glad that every blue got to go home at the end of the night.

Dan @ 3/26/2014 10:34 AM

This confrontation went on for a while, as seen by the second video. This started in clear daylight hours and went into twilight, low light evening. The officers definitely gave him time to comply. Not sure why they used a flash bang, except to say they exhausted all options prior to lethal force. This will be cleared as a good shoot, but I think it could have been tweaked a bit. Once SWAT was on scene, they had several options. The suspect was armed, and within documented kill zone distance, but in that terrain, it would have been difficult to close the gap. The officers were at the advantage because they were set up with weapons ready, not stuck in their holsters. Any quick advancement by the suspect would have been met with gun fire.

I will never second a fellow officer's actions after the fact, but because I was not there in his/her mindset. As an FTO, I believe the bean bag should have been used sooner, not when the suspect is half dead with four rounds in his side and back.

Dan @ 3/26/2014 10:50 AM

After watching this again, from the helmet cam, the guy grabs his bag and appears to be ready to walk out. Why would they let him grab the bag? It's an unknown threat. Bean bags should have been used as soon as he reached for the bag, but sympathy fire may have been the next result. This is one of those situations where passive resistance makes it tough on LEOs. Sometimes we get caught up in someone not complying with our orders, but they are not doing anything to threaten us. I understand he made a verbal threat of assault and this weighs into the totality of the circumstances, but a verbal threat was made without any knowledge he had a weapon. At that point it was just a threat without the ability to immediately complete the threat. How how many 422 calls have been kissed off because they alleged suspect said, "I'll kill you." That is not a crime without the ability to immediately complete the threat.

Anyway, the officers all went home after this. Be safe guys.

John L. @ 3/27/2014 4:03 PM

Who did they think they were engaging? The Taliban? These military wannabes should all be brought up on manslaughter charges. This just makes our jobs tougher with public perception.

Taylor @ 3/28/2014 6:29 PM

Wow. What has this society come to? Obviously, he was complying with their orders by getting his pack and starting to leave. Only when they set off the explosion and the dog started charging did he wield the knives. Obviously, when one is threatened with such surprise, their nervous system is going to take over and they will put their hands up to defend themselves. Did this guy die? This is out of line, out of control, awful violence. Back in the day, this wouldn't have happened. Unconscionable. No need for such escalation and senseless trauma (and death, if applicable here).

STEVE F. @ 3/28/2014 6:31 PM


joe morgan @ 3/28/2014 8:03 PM

they murdered the guy. it was only trespassing. made me sick to watch this guy get murdered. my god, it was only trespassing, they had a choice, john wayne mentality won. more tragedy is that all of them will not in all reality be held accountable. I hope when the cops reflect on what they did, they will feel the anguish and pain of knowingly killing a person. cops had a choice to end it peacefully. where was the supervisor???????

richard boyden @ 3/28/2014 10:02 PM

As a combat marine...Every time a COP/PIG like these animated maggots from hell get's shot...I say GOOD WORK GOD! No tears from me when murderous bastards like these DIE and you know what? MOST ALL COPS NOW ARE LIKE THESE...COLD BLOODED KILLERS!

Joseph Harrington @ 3/28/2014 10:50 PM

That was not justified. At this point in time the officers were the aggressors. The man had his hands full when the officer on the right tossed a flash bang. Who gave the order "do it" after the flash bang. Then the next officer released the K-9. The man uses the bags as a shield when bitten by the K-9. Then he pulls the knife, and starts to turn away. That's when five rounds were discharged.
I believe these officers should be charged pending the outcome of an investigation. Their training needs to be reevaluated. May be they should train more with simunitions in various scenario's.

bigal @ 3/28/2014 11:10 PM

Every day cops kill when it can be avoided. Fools that defend them are trigger happy punks. This dhould have ended without anyone being shot. Cops gone berserk again.

Neal @ 3/29/2014 4:45 AM

Shot in the back 5 times. How noble of our boys in blue. They should all be brought up on charges and discharged. They have no right to be officers. Remind me never to go camping in New Mexico, I may get shot for having a good time.

larri coyle @ 3/29/2014 5:39 AM

chiken shit cops with an arsenal against a mental ill person with alittle knife murders

Bob @ 3/29/2014 6:47 AM

Unreal those officers should be tried and hung, I guess they shoot then cover there asses together, coward police I terminate them.

kim @ 3/29/2014 9:22 AM

to the what did you say you are cops what if this was a member of your family would you want the out come to be the same we are a kill now ask questions later society I am not a religious person but god help you your going to need it! I come from a la inforcement family and you will justify what ever you do after all you are the law right........I am more affraid of cops than so called outlaws your actions are unforgiveable.

Max @ 3/29/2014 10:15 AM

Anyone who thinks that the officers were justified in killing that guy have no business being in law enforcement. They elevate the situation by throwing a flashbang and then shoot the guy as he's turning away? Anyone that fired anything other than a less than lethal round needs to go to prison.

I'm tired of LEOs using the whole "go home at the end of their shift" line as a justification for all of their cowardly actions.

And before anyone jumps on me about how "I don't know what it's like" - I spent 27 months in Afghanistan in a light infantry platoon. I was in a decent firefight at least once a week.

If you aren't confident and competent enough to know when deadly force is necessary and when it isn't THEN DON'T BE IN A LINE OF WORK THAT REQUIRES YOU TO BE IN THOSE SITUATIONS.

If you want to be an "operator" and shoot people in the face then join the military. Your purpose as a police officer is to protect the public - even from themselves.

X seal @ 3/29/2014 11:21 AM

thay are all cowards, wimps and afraid of whoever was in command more than afraid of the camper,which it looks like thay are. This is so desgusting that it makes me sick. I would be ashamed of myself, quit the force, and ask the man, crazy or not, to forgive me for being a stupid jerk. What is our country comming to?

Dennis Noble @ 3/29/2014 11:52 AM

This is not justice, the shooters ("LEO") should NOT have authority nor hold any position which requires cool heads, the need for good judgement and / or patience. There is absolutely NO REASON for what happened here; this was nothing more than a real life mbp: murder by police. drn

Special Forces Navy @ 3/29/2014 1:57 PM

I have never in my life ever seen so many chicken cops in one place, myself being special forces and trained in hand to hand and how to protect myself and other with just my hands and body...when a man is scared of his job and has to fall to tough mode with a gun, needs to be fired. The American people need to monitor police more closely from the top down.
This is murder and should be taken to the courts asap....killers with badges.

Chas @ 3/29/2014 2:11 PM

What I saw was the officer that had the helmet cam swung his weapon to the left, said something, and as he swung it back to the right, he inadvertently discharged his weapon. He did not have it on the guy, and the bullet hit a rock in front of him, resulting in sympathy fire from the other officer(s). Then the helmet cam officer joined in to cover his inadvertent discharge. That was not a "flash-bang or stun grenade. The helmet cam officer was probably pumped up with adrenaline and was putting too much pressure on the trigger. When he swung the weapon back to the right, the movement created enough additional finger pressure to cause the sear to release. His rifle probably has a trigger pull below four lbs, and a two-stage trigger. He already had the first stage taken up when he swung the rifle. That's my take.

Chuck @ 4/10/2014 5:05 PM

After 32 years in this business that is about the worst piece of L.E. work I have seen. Whoever that trigger happy moron was on the AR needs to be prosecuted. This is what gives us all a bad name.

sean @ 4/12/2014 4:22 AM

This is crazy, in my country we don't carry guns and for good reason -> this video shows a murder not law enforcement. The guy was overweight and had a knife, I carry a tazer gun and a baton - the worse I'd have done is give him a shock or a bad head the next morning and I'd have taken his liberty away, this six strong group of morons took his life. If you had your guns taken away, you'd all be a nervous group of women.

Joe @ 4/15/2014 10:57 AM

this was absolutely a good shoot. the dog is an officer and he refused to comply and tried to stab the dog. those that disagree I guess you may as well go back to your job doing nothing and never being in this situation.

PJ @ 8/7/2014 7:00 PM

One thing even the best Police Academies in the country have never been able to teach is common sense. Something NO ONE here showed. Everyone on this scene was a total idiot.

Eric @ 10/1/2014 9:14 AM

Isn't it illegal to shoot someone in the back in self defense in a home? Example: Someone breaks in, turns to flee, you shoot them in the back, you land in jail. Then how is it OK and legal to shoot someone who was clearly turning around to "Get down and put their hands behind their back" as ordered by the authority there? If this cop isn't found guilty, then I don't know what is wrong with the U.S. We might as well line up, light a cig like in the old movies, and let them put one in our brain. At least it'll be painless (maybe).

Jim Davenport @ 1/12/2015 6:55 PM

I pray I am NEVER involved in a scene like this!

Old Cop @ 1/12/2015 7:12 PM

Sorry boys this ones a bad shoot. A lot of good competent police officers working around this country are going to suffer for it. No one knows that better than those involved, it will be the topic of their nightmares for a long time to come.
As for you Sean, I suggest you stay in whatever country you're from, you wouldn't last on our streets.

CHPray @ 1/12/2015 8:43 PM

1st - Law enforcement unarmed combat training is no where near the level or intensity Special Ops receive. No comparison.

2nd - Several studies have shown that when confronted with a threat - suspect with/firing a firearm or using a knife attack - the time delay in threat recognition to firing can result in suspects being shot in the back when they are turning to flee while engaged.

3rd - "Just a tresspassing". Yea like "just a routine car stop", like Newhall in 1970, or Lakewood WA a few years ago. Personal case - Responded to a state facility - a reported drunk or sick person. Got there, he was in a chair with 4 firefighters standing around him, giving care and concern. As I approached, kept seeing him trying to put his hand in his right front pocket. I pushed thru the FFs, used my baton to pin him in the chair and took out a 25 auto from the RF pockeet, loaded clip, one in the chamber. Handed it to a FF while I handcuffed the "victim". No such thing as "just a----"

Happy Camper @ 1/12/2015 11:44 PM

Everyone's saying "he got his bag / ready to leave"
Where do you think he GOT THE KNIVES FROM !!!
The flash didn't work, wow - he already chose his path -
the Live By The Sword one.
Someone else might say
"he couldn't reach them"
He's in an elevated position, trespassing and seems
to have had enough TIME to bring multiple possessions -
it was overdue to vacate.
Reacting as though you're in a position to argue, and
the situation requiring Armed Officers to respond should
have sent off some Red (& Blue) Lights in this social
deviate's head / mind - but they did NOT.
He chose to DUAL-WIELD to sharp blades in an
false-attempt to defend a territory that WAS NOT,
IS NOT, and WILL NOT BE property of their possession.

Jacob E Gonzales @ 1/12/2015 11:44 PM


krisnlc @ 1/14/2015 3:45 PM

This man was murdered.... cannot explain away this bit of bad police response!

J @ 1/31/2015 11:58 AM

OK everyone, first of all, this had been going on for about 4 hours. The people living below had called the police on this guy. When open space officers arrived he became violant with them prompting the call for other LE. The mad was a violent felon. He had a history of arrest, had been locked up for slashing up two people before. His choice of weapons were knifes. They negotiators there, people who specialize is dealing with mentaly ill people. nothing was working, he refused to listen to anyone. He had made numerous threats of killing LE while talking with them, the helmet cams only show a very brief moment in the entire ordeal. yes there were some other tactical things that could have possibly been done, BUT by law the shooting was justified. As so many people have stated he was turning to lay down and give up, he was NOT, yes he turned but to tun, what looked like him starting to lay down was infact him slightly bending over to gain momentum (movement) to run up the hill.

J @ 1/31/2015 12:04 PM

.......He had 1 knife in his hand the entire time, when the dog was deployed he reached into his pocket and pulled out the second knife. Hard to see but he did try and slice at the K9 which is considered an Officer. The officers that fired were in fear for the K9 handler himself and the k9 due to the distance he was from them. Im not saying this was picture perfect (what shooting ever is), but in the end it was justified, Were mistakes made? yes, could other tools have been used? maybe but none of us were there so haw can we make jusdements calls off a very short video that does not show the entire incident. The DA had not charged the officers, it was found a justified shoot. Well APD ended up conducting an investigation on the DA for trying to get victims from filing charges on her son (druggie), when they went through with it, she filed murder charges on them (first time in history in NM). To the idiot who said it was not a flash bang and tht the cam officer fired his gun. Dumb!!!!!!

J @ 1/31/2015 12:11 PM

....What the heck were you seeing. How many of you go to a scene or anywhere and decide the subject is under arrest? You dont just decide to un-arrest them because they say ok I'll leave the store, im sorry I tried to taking such and such, or I wont hit her again. Because he said I'll come down and leave dosent mean everyone was going to leave. He was not going to let himself be arrested. Yes its sad he had to die, Everything would have been ok if he had just done what he was told. How dare any of us try and judge what happen there with out being there and only looking a short video.
The public already hate us because the media helps make the "so innocent thugs" these idols who never did anything wrong. We dont need other LEOs doing the same. Remember just like everyone else, we to are innocent until proven guilty. Stay safe, stay alert.

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