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.”