Nathaniel Jason Roybal, fatally shot by Santa Fe County deputies late the night of June 23, had been armed with an air gun, a New Mexico State Police investigator says in a new report.
Videos from the deputies’ dashboard cameras, first obtained by KRQE-TV three weeks after the incident, show Roybal, 32, waving a gun out the window of a black Ford Ranger after leading deputies on a pursuit to Siler Road. He appears to fire a shot, prompting deputies to fire on the vehicle. When the gunshots stop, Roybal gets out of the bullet-ridden truck, drops his gun and begins running.
The deputies — identified by state police as Leonardo Guzman, Jacob Martinez and Cpl. Chris Zook — fire again, this time killing him, the videos show.
A state police investigator wrote in the newly released report he found a Sig Sauer P226 air pistol, built to fire pellets, lying on the ground next to the pickup Roybal had been driving.
The report was one of several that state police released late last week in response to a public records request.
Investigators found 40 9 mm shell casings at the scene, according to the reports. The black Ranger, which state police have said was reported stolen, had bullet holes in the windshield, back windows, tailgate and cab.
A “loaded syringe with possible heroin” also was lying on the ground.
Jay Winton, a former U.S. Border Patrol agent and salesman at the Outdoorsman in Santa Fe, said air guns often resemble firearms but are functionally incompatible.
“They use compressed gas to fire nonlethal projectiles, often for training purposes,” Winton said. “Most of them are made out of relatively light metal that couldn’t even contain the power of a bullet.”
While they look similar to firearms, Winton added, air guns often make a different popping sound.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said Monday the threat law enforcement officers perceive at a scene determines whether they decide to respond with force.
“Why would anyone point a firearm, lethal or not, at armed officers instead of simply complying?” he asked.
The incident was Roybal’s second encounter with deputies that day.
On the morning of June 23, a woman reported to emergency dispatchers he was waiting outside her home in a black Ford truck and that he had pointed a handgun at her. She accused Roybal of often stalking her at 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.
The sheriff’s office put out an alert for Roybal and the black truck, and Guzman encountered him hours later on West Alameda Street, leading to the deadly shooting.
Nathaniel Jason Roybal has an identical twin brother, Nathan Roybal, who shared the same birthday and features, the state police reports say. This delayed the agency’s identification of the man killed by deputies; officials had to confirm his identity by his tattoos.
“Based on the investigation, it was noted that Nathan and Nathaniel both used each other’s names during their contacts with law enforcement,” one report says.
When a state police agent went to inform Nathan Roybal of his brother’s death, the report says, he said he already knew his brother had been killed and told the investigator to leave.