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Two New Mexico State Police officers shot and killed a man they said was armed with a machete after an hourslong, overnight standoff at the entrance to a Smith’s grocery store parking lot in Northeast Albuquerque early Thursday morning.
The man’s name has not yet been released, pending notification of his family. The officers are on administrative leave, which is standard, and their names will be released after the Multi-Agency Task Force investigating the shooting interviews them.
The encounter began shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday when a State Police officer pulled over a suspected drunken driver who was driving with no headlights on and was swerving in and out of the lane, according to a department spokesman. The driver stopped at a Chevron gas station at Montgomery and Louisiana NE.
“As our officer contacted the driver of the vehicle he immediately noticed several knives and what appeared to be drug paraphernalia,” State Police Chief Tim Johnson said in a Thursday morning briefing.
He said the officer who made the traffic stop was trained in crisis intervention and “was able to build a rapport and have decent communications” with the driver. A second officer placed tire deflation devices under the driver’s Jeep SUV.
“After several hours of talking and negotiating with that subject the male driver decided to ingest what we believe to be illegal drugs,” Johnson said. “He then put his vehicle in reverse, crashing into one of our units.”
The driver fled but, since his tires were deflated, he crashed into the curb at the Smith’s grocery store across the street, said a State Police spokesman.
The driver refused to leave his car, Johnson said, and the State Police SWAT team arrived to help. A Crisis Negotiation Team officer was also at the scene trying to resolve the situation, he said.
The officers used a flash-bang explosive device and “a chemical munition” and eventually the driver came out through the passenger door around 3 a.m. Thursday.
Following the investigation into the incident the case will be turned over to the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
“Obviously, a very unfortunate sequence of events but I would briefly like to commend our personnel for spending what appears to be three-plus hours out there in the freezing cold attempting to communicate and negotiate with this suspect to resolve this peacefully,” Johnson said.
This is the 22nd shooting by law enforcement in Bernalillo County this year, but the first by New Mexico State Police, according to Journal records. The Albuquerque Police Department has shot at 17 people, killing nine. The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office has shot three people, all fatally. And the U.S. Marshals Service has shot and killed one person.
Journal photographer Adolphe Pierre-Louis contributed to this report.