Officers approached an armed suspect but once rifle revealed, fire on him
As officers attempt to approach suspect during a traffic stop, suspect refuses orders then raises rifle towards officers, prompting police to fire.
Espanola, NM: Law enforcement officers from the Espanola Police Department, New Mexico were forced to fire at a suspect refusing to obey orders.
EPD officers received a report of a suspicious vehicle with a man “slumped over” in the driver’s seat and reported to the area. Footage showed Sgt. Garcia cautiously approached the vehicle and was told by a nearby officer that the driver of the truck was armed. An alert Sgt. Garcia then told the suspect to drop the weapon. He can be heard on his body-worn camera footage telling the driver, “Whoa, whoa,whoa…don’t don’t reach for nothing, bro. Don’t… reach for it.”
However, the suspect paused momentarily but then slowly started pointing the rifle out of the window. Sgt. Garcia gave multiple orders to the driver and yelled, “Put it down, put it down.”
After the suspect allegedly fully exposed and pointed the rifle towards the officers, they quickly took cover at their nearby cruisers. Shortly after, shots can be heard firing by another officer, Sgt. James Mayers. The driver, identified as 56 year-old Hilario Baca, was shot once and finally but slowly complied with orders from the officers.
Baca was treated at the scene by responding medical personnel and is expected to survive. He is charged with one count of aggravated assault on an officer.
While Baca was secured, officers asked him why he did not comply after given numerous opportunities to do so. “Why’d you reach for that gun, bro,” asked one of the officers. But no intelligible answer can be heard on the body-worn footage.
Later in the video, Police Chief Garcia responded to scene and a still amped up Sgt. Mayers was able to recap the entire scenario to he chief.
The Importance of Training
The video was a great example of responding officers giving an unpredictable suspect multiple opportunities to comply safely. Although the suspect did not display wild, erratic behaviors as many suspects on drugs do, the situation still quickly escalated. It is another lesson on the dangers of complacency.
Too many officers approach a suspect’s vehicle with a calm and lax attitude. Thankfully, the suspect’s movement were slow enough for officers to get to safety and avoid getting injured, or worse, killed in the line of duty.
The officers displayed professionalism, tact and poise and rendered the aid shortly after the incident was brought under complete control.
Check out the YouTube video below to watch the Law and Crime breakdown of the video.
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