Two Española police officers are on paid administrative leave after fatally shooting a man Tuesday night in the parking lot of Ranchitos Park off Calle Ranchitos Road.

The officers shot and killed Luis Nathan Leyba, 38, of Española while responding to a welfare call about the vehicle he was sitting in with a woman, according to a news release from New Mexico State Police.

Two officers responded to the park around 9:30 p.m. One officer spoke with the woman, who stood outside the vehicle before sitting down in the passenger seat and “ignoring the officer’s commands,” the release states.

Leyba then put the vehicle in reverse, dragging one of the officers, the release says.

The officer commanded Leyba to stop the vehicle several times, but he did not, state police said. Both officers drew their guns and shot Leyba at least once, according to the release.

Leyba was taken to a nearby hospital where he was later pronounced dead. The woman he was with suffered minor injuries and was released from the hospital.

The investigation into the shooting is being led by state police, which is withholding the names of the officers until interviews on the incident are completed.

The Española Police Department confirmed two of its officers were involved in a shooting but declined to comment further, citing the investigation. State police did not respond to calls Wednesday night, and it remained unclear if Leyba was armed or which hospital he was taken to.

In addition to Leyba, five people have been killed by police in New Mexico in 2021, according to a database compiled by the Washington Post. In June 2014, Española police shot and killed Victor Villalpando, a 16-year-old El Rito boy, who officers said pointed a gun at them that turned out to be a toy. A grand jury determined the shooting was justified.

(1) comment

Khal Spencer

So much left out here. Why the welfare check to begin with? Why did the driver do what he did? Sounds like this escalated to violence and deadly force pretty fast.

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