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Julian Sanchez and his friend had been drinking and playing blackjack at a casino before driving home early Saturday morning. On Tramway and Rover NE, just south of Menaul, 21-year-old Sanchez crashed in the median, toppling a street sign.

The two young men were in and out of consciousness as police arrived, according to Sanchez’s family.

And a short time later police say at least one officer saw a firearm and fired shots, killing Sanchez.

Now his family is speaking out, wanting more information about what happened and disputing the idea that Sanchez was a danger to police or anyone else.

“Everybody in our family is just at a loss for words,” said Desirea Sanchez, his older sister. “Julian, not him – because it’s not like him to ever be in a situation like this. It’s not right and it’s not fair. Well, especially since we don’t really know what happened. He was a good kid … he didn’t do drugs, he didn’t hang out with the wrong crowd.”

Julian Sanchez, 21 (Courtesy of Desirea Sanchez)

In a briefing along Tramway early Saturday morning, Chief Harold Medina said officers had removed a passenger from the vehicle and were in the process of removing the driver when “an officer indicated that there possibly was a firearm on scene and shots were fired.”

Rescue was called but Sanchez died.

The Multi-Agency Task Force is investigating the shooting, as is standard. An APD spokesman said he cannot answer questions about why officers believed Sanchez was a threat since the investigation is in its preliminary stages. The Albuquerque Police Department typically holds a briefing and releases body camera video footage weeks after a shooting.

Desirea Sanchez said she’s spoken with her youngest brother’s friend but he told her his memory of how everything unfolded is murky. She said Julian Sanchez always kept his gun – legally owned – in his center console for protection and knew the responsibilities of having a firearm.

Desirea Sanchez said her brother’s friend told her that the officers had him detained on the ground and he heard shouts of “gun, gun, gun” and then the shooting.

“He said when they took him back to the station that he was just in and out of it …,” she said. “But they didn’t tell him until the morning that Julian was deceased.”

Julian Sanchez was the youngest of four and grew up in Albuquerque knowing to be wary of house parties and bad crowds, his sister said. She said their dad had gotten him a job at a food distributor off West Central and he was just about to start a new job at UPS. He has no criminal history in New Mexico, according to online court records.

“He’s someone’s kid, he’s someone’s brother, he’s someone’s baby. He was our baby …,” Desirea Sanchez said, adding that she has seen many hurtful comments about the shooting on social media. “That’s someone’s family, and it’s someone’s blood. There’s just so much hate and we need to bring awareness that bad things happen to people.”

Over the weekend, Desirea Sanchez and their oldest brother came to Albuquerque from Kansas to be with family. On Monday they put a memorial at the spot where Julian Sanchez was killed.

Julian Sanchez was the eighth person killed by Albuquerque police this year.

In total, officers have fired at 16 people, injuring three and missing five others. One of the people officers fired at, but missed, had killed himself right before they fired.