Screen grab KRQE

Footage from a deputy’s camera shows the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Nathan Roybal, blurred, as he is running away after exiting the pickup he was driving June 23.

More than three weeks after Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies opened fire on 32-year-old Nathan Roybal on Siler Road, leading to one of three recent fatalities by local law enforcement, New Mexico State Police has released the deputies’ names.

Among them is Deputy Leonardo Guzman, a former officer with the Santa Fe Police Department who had shot and killed a suspected car thief following a chase to a home near Eldorado in 2017. Guzman was cleared by a panel of district attorneys the same year.

State police spokesman Ray Wilson wrote in a news release Thursday that Guzman encountered Roybal in a stolen black Ford Ranger on West Alameda Street and tried to pull him over around 11 p.m. June 23.

The sheriff’s office had put out an alert for Roybal and the truck earlier in the day after he was accused of pointing a gun at a woman on Lopez Lane who had asked him to leave her home. A sheriff’s office report said deputies responding to the woman’s call followed Roybal, who led them on a reckless, high-speed chase and tried to strike a patrol vehicle with the truck. A commander with the agency called off the chase, the report said.

While the sheriff’s office report did not mention the truck was stolen, Wilson wrote in a news release Thursday his agency’s investigators found it had been reported stolen May 1 to Santa Fe police.

Roybal also attempted to evade Guzman, according to dashboard camera video released Wednesday and Wilson’s Thursday news release. The video footage shows a much slower second pursuit, with Roybal traveling in reverse for several minutes until he reaches Siler Road. He stopped on Siler near Rufina Court, where his encounter with Guzman, Cpl. Chris Zook and Deputy Jacob Martinez — whom Wilson said had “arrived to assist with the pursuit” — turned deadly.

“The deputies saw Roybal point a handgun towards them from outside the driver’s side window,” Wilson wrote. “At this time, all three deputies discharged their duty weapons towards Roybal.”

Video of the incident shows deputies ordering Roybal to get out of the truck after he stopped. But he didn’t comply. Instead, he waved a gun out the window and fired a shot. The deputies then fired about 20 shots back at the Ford Ranger, the video shows, riddling it with bullet holes.

But Wilson’s statement on what came next varies from the events that unfold on video.

Wilson wrote in the news release, “Roybal got out of the vehicle armed with the handgun. Roybal brandished the handgun towards deputies, who again fired at Roybal. Roybal was struck by gunfire and succumbed to his injuries.”

Wilson issued a news release June 24 with a similar description of the shooting.

However, the series of videos from the deputies’ patrol vehicles show Roybal dropped the gun immediately after he got out of the truck. He began running across Siler Road and was fatally struck by the deputies’ bullets as he was fleeing — mostly with his back to them.

Wilson declined to answer questions about discrepancies between the events shown in the deputies’ videos and his agency’s version of the events. He wrote in an email he had passed the questions along to state police investigators.

Wilson wrote in the news release that Zook has nine years of law enforcement experience and has been with the sheriff’s office for six years and that Martinez has 11 years of experience and has been with the office for six months.

He initially wrote that Guzman, who has 10 years of law enforcement experience, has been with the sheriff’s office for eight years, but he later issued a corrected statement saying Guzman has two years of service with the county agency.

Sheriff’s office spokesman Juan Ríos confirmed in an email that Guzman joined the office in March 2019 and previously was employed with the Santa Fe Police Department, where he was involved in a fatal shooting.

Ríos said the three deputies involved in the Siler Road shooting were all placed on a “standard 3-day administrative leave.”

Santa Fe police Chief Andrew Padilla also confirmed Guzman was an officer with the city force in 2017 and fatally shot Andrew James Lucero, 28, in a driveway near Eldorado after Lucero led police on a chase in a stolen car.

Video of the incident showed that as officers were trying to apprehend Lucero, he jumped into a patrol car and started moving it forward. Authorities said at the time Guzman was dragged by the car and struck a tree before firing a fatal round at Lucero.

A committee of five district attorneys from around the state formed later in 2017 found Guzman had acted lawfully and that the shooting was a “justifiable homicide.”

Padilla wrote in an email Thursday that Guzman had resigned from the city department “upon his own free will.”

Wilson did not respond when asked why it had taken so long for the agency to release the names of the deputies involved in the Siler Road shooting and whether Guzman’s involvement in a previous fatal shooting was a factor.

State police are investigating two other fatal law enforcement shootings in the Santa Fe area.

On the morning of June 23, Santa Fe police Sgt. Bradley Lopez fatally shot Francisco Javier Lino-Gutierrez, 29, of Lamy on Old Santa Fe Trail. Lino-Gutierrez was a suspect in a shooting that morning at De Vargas Park.

He led officers on a foot chase through the downtown area and pointed a gun at officers before Lopez shot him, state police said.

On July 7, a Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed 45-year-old Edward Daniel Santana at a home in Tesuque, where Santana was accused of fatally stabbing his mother.

State police have not yet released the name of the deputy who shot Santana and have not responded to criticism from family members who said he had slit his own throat and posed no threat to deputies when he was killed.

Local law enforcement leaders have said they don’t see any direct connections between the recent shootings but cited a rise in increasingly violent crime that prompts officers to use deadly force.

“I think some of these incidents are becoming more violent,” Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said in a recent interview. “I’m not really sure what the reasoning is behind it. These officer-involved shootings are definitely concerning for everyone.”

(16) comments

Khal Spencer

One thing I wonder about. Watching that video from the comfort of My Friday Morning Armchair, I can see that he dropped that gun, either because he dropped it on purpose or perhaps he was being hit by gunfire and lost control. That said, its not obvious to me, having taken CHL training here, that the police would have noticed the drop at that time. Typically one is taking a two hand hold and aiming for center mass. Its possible that in the gunfight, all they saw was center mass (in the dark, no less) and the lower body portion would have been obscured by the police officer firearm and hand holds. But I don't know. I just know how we all hold and focus in the training and I've read enough stuff saying in those situations, your focus becomes very narrow. I'll leave the technical details to folks like Mas Ayoob.

This gentleman was indeed in and out of custody and down the long road to Hades. Was there a better way to do this? Maybe. I don't want to comment on that as by the time this happened, a lot had gone down before. Felon in possession? Pointing a gun at a lady earlier in the day; isn't that a threat of deadly force? Shooting at the cops? Insufficient police training? Cops fired up with adrenaline? Guns everywhere in the wrong hands? Drugs? Mental illness? Take your pick. Or pick two and get one free.

So I am not going to cr*p on the police for this. I bring my own prejudices to the table, just as do everyone else. And as others have said, I too have never walked a beat with a badge and a gun and had to make split second decisions on life or death while being shot at.

Woulda been better if things had not gone down so far, eh? So how do we fix it rather than point fingers?

Vanessa Lopez

“He began running across Siler Road and was fatally struck by the deputies’ bullets as he was fleeing—Mostly with his back to them.”

The media should rewrite this narrative by saying that he began running across Siler Road with his hands raised high and fatally struck by the deputies’ bullets. Now, this would have been a more dramatic statement in the storytelling.

Vanessa Lopez

I don’t understand how Chris Mechels can claim that Guzman “got away with murder in 2017.” I’m curious to see what Chris would have done if he was the one being dragged by a vehicle and pinned to a tree. Then again, Chris has received the best law enforcement training in the world from the Los Alamos National Labs and would have probably used his Matrix powers.

Peter Romero

Everyone is an expert on Monday morning after watching a video. I can not imagine being in the situation the required this type of action. We need to focus on the people who got shot and ask our prosecutors why weren't they locked up?

Chris Mechels

Peter, I have been involved, since the 2013 killing of Jeanette Anaya, in seeking police training reform, with some small success. Dismissing my comments is an insult. What knowledge do YOU bring to this situation. What effort do YOU make to understand our police issues?? We rank LAST in the nation in police matters; what are YOU doing??

Andrew Lucero

When you put on a badge and start walking a beat, we'll start taking you seriously.

Peter Romero

I pay taxes and vote republican. I might remind you the democrats have controlled NM since 1912. It is never my intent to insult anyone.

Francisco Carbajal

Chris Mechels, seriously, the knowledge YOU claim to possess relating to seeking police training reform is baseless and has no merits from the get-go since the 2013 officer-related shooting involving a NMSP Officer. If anyone that does not understand our police issues relating to the "Use of Deadly Force" training is you. Stay on your lane.

Chris Mechels

Guzman got away with murder in 2017, and go cleared by our cowardly DAs. He had violated SFPD Pursuit Policy and Use of Force policy and turned off his body cam. He should have been fired and prosecuted, but wasn't. He's dangerous.

Guzman came out of perhaps the worst LEA training class ever in 2013, BPOT #186. Jack Jones, recently appointed the LEA Director, was so ugly that he lost the ALL the BPOT instructors, and proceeded to teach the classes himself, though he lacked the required credentials to do so. The LEA Board sat there like idiots and let this go by, then "certified" the cadets, who had been taught the test by Jack. Makes you wonder.

This is all in the LEA minutes of 2013, and the lawsuit. Yes, the instructors sued, and later settled for $650k. They were good men, with solid credentials and experience.

I have said repeatedly that SFPD and the SF Sheriff are getting the worst police training in the state. Its true. When will the Mayor, the Attorney General (who chairs the LEA Board) and SFPD act? Guzman is a Red Flag.

Francisco Carbajal

Chris Mechels, your entire statements blaming, pointing fingers, slandering & libel comments against our law enforcement officer's is disgusting and deserves contempt. How dare you disrespect a two good law enforcement officer's "just because" you can. If you are so good on creating good policy, regulations, and police officer standards relating to police training and curriculum, why don't you apply at the NM Law Enforcement Academy and show your "subject matter expertise," specifically, in the field of the "Use of Force Model, legal and enforcement powers of authority, conceptual, and theory applications, etc.? If not, you are in the wrong business to chastise and correct any certified and post-accredit law enforcement officer in this state, period! If any one that should be given the "Red-Flag" title and position, you meet the criteria, definitely!

Khal Spencer

This reads like the New Mexican is trying to do a hatchet job on this cop. Face it, we have some violent perps around here and sometimes they instigate the violence with the police.

I watched that video many times and it does seem like he dropped that gun on exiting the truck rather than what I would consider brandishing. Whether that was obvious to the police in the heat of the moment and in the dark is something that may be important to differentiate between the intense drama of the moment and us sitting on our hind ends watching the video in the comfort of our homes rather than while dodging a bullet. Plus, who knows if it was the only gun he was carrying. After all, he had threatened a woman with a firearm earlier in the day and instigated the shootout with the P.D.

Angel Ortiz

[thumbup]

Chris Mechels

Khal, they knew this guy, and were calling on him by name. He was a "mental" and had a long history of messing up, in and out of our of jails, since 2007. Also a history of owning, and displaying, firearms, but NO history of shooting at people. They knew all this. He was just messing with them, yet again. Our system failed him, and fails many like him. They executed him, because was an annoyance.

Joseph Tafoya

So what if he had a mental condition? A law enforcement officer's worst nightmare is an unstable person with a gun. Especially if he fires off the first rounds. This guy's fate was scripted when he took up a life of crime and the legal system kept turning him loose to continue on his merry way. This only emboldens people like this believing themselves to be bulletproof. Well, his action proved that theory wrong. From what I have seen here on your posting you may have a one-trick pony that's about wore out. If you are looking for someone to blame besides the criminal, look to the broken legal system we have here in New Mexico. The law enforcers are the ones left to clean up the mess.

Francisco Carbajal

Chris Mechels, I am sure you would qualify for one of the social worker and mental health counseling position for the crisis response team in Santa Fe. Please apply immediately.

Lee Vigil

I wonder what it looked like from the policeman who was parked to the left of Roybal. That perspective looked quite different than from behind.

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