New Mexico's governor is reframing the death penalty debate as the proper response to recent police killings, including one officer killed Friday in her own state, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
This response to police killings bucks a national trend as many states and courts are backing away from the death penalty, in part due to practical constraints on cost and the drugs used in capital punishment. In New Mexico, the push for its return faces opposition from Democrats, which have the majority in the state legislature.
But Republican Gov. Susana Martinez said the shooting of a police officer in Hatch, NM, on Friday, as well as several police killings elsewhere in the nation, prove the punishment is needed to deter society's grossest crimes, Dan Boyd reported for the Albuquerque Journal.
"People need to ask themselves, if the man who ambushed and killed five police officers in Dallas had lived, would he deserve the ultimate penalty," Governor Martinez said Wednesday in a prepared statement. "How about the heartless violent criminals who killed Officer Jose Chavez in Hatch and left his children without their brave and selfless dad? Do they deserve the ultimate penalty? Absolutely. Because a society that fails to adequately protect and defend those who protect all of us is a society that will be undone and unsafe."
New Mexico repealed the death penalty in 2009, and Wednesday's announcement marked the first time the governor had brought up the issue since it failed to pass a Democratic legislature in 2011.
Third Judicial District Attorney Mark D'Antonio, whose office filed a murder charge against Officer Chavez' killers, said such crimes could be a good reason to discuss the death penalty again.
"The death penalty should be the last resort for the worst of the worst and in certain situations like for cop-killers," he said in a statement.