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Albuquerque Police Department holds press conference on officer-involved shooting

Kail9, Unsplash

That 911 call to report a stolen vehicle, would lead to a helicopter pursuit, followed shortly by an on-foot pursuit by officers, and eventually end in an officer-involved shooting that occurred on February 1st.

On that day, shortly after 10:00am, officers in the Northeast area command responded to a report of a stolen vehicle, occupied by an individual in the area of Carlisle Blvd.

Officers were able to confirm that the vehicle was reported as stolen. But as they approached the vehicle, the driver pulled out of a parking lot and left the area.

APD’s helicopter then followed the vehicle for about 20 minutes throughout the city, before it stopped near Woodland and Fourth Street N.W.

The driver, now identified as 31-year-old Devin Morris, then fled the vehicle, running towards a motel on fourth street. Officers in pursuit of Morris confronted him at the motel.

As one officer attempted to physically detain Morris against a wall, another deployed his taser. But Morris then brandished a firearm to the officers and broke free of the officer attempting to physically detain him.

Morris then made a break for Fourth Street before he was shot in the back four times.

Morris did succumb to his injuries.

In a press release to KSFR from the Albuquerque Police Department, two officers who were involved in the shooting are named directly.

Romeo Garza, who has been with the department since 2008, and has never been involved in a prior officer involved shooting. And Charles Miller, who has also been with the department since 2008, and has also never been involved in a prior officer involved shooting.

At a press conference Thursday, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina was asked what he thought about officers shooting Morris in the back.

“I think it’s important that (we) hold judgment. That the public sometimes sits back and waits for us to present the facts. And that, we’re careful, that day when I was on scene, there were already the rumblings that there was a witness going around saying, ‘hey, I have video, and I caught this, the officers only shot him in the back.’ And I think it’s important that we’re fair to our officers, that we’re fair to the community, and we kind of sometimes take a step back and we let investigations play out. Because without a doubt, there is some truth in that, an individual was shot in the back. But the truth is that the individual was armed with a firearm, was fleeing officers, and endangered not only officers, but the community. So in a way, it is true what individuals are saying, but it's the facts of the case that change the whole dynamic.”

Over the next several months, APD says they will continue to investigate and analyze this incident. Detectives are continuing to interview any new witnesses that come forward and complete any forensic tests.

After the investigation has been completed, APD’s force review board will forward the findings to the Superintendent of Police Reform, who will then review it to see if it meets the high standards of the Albuquerque Police Department.