Norbert Utz said not much happens on Chaparral Drive, near Eldorado. Watching television on Saturday around 10 p.m., he said he was surprised to hear the honking that police vehicles make to get someone’s attention.
From his kitchen window, Utz, 49, who works as a systems analyst and programmer for Santa Fe Community College, saw three police cars near the end of his driveway. A commotion was occurring, but he could not make out what it was. He said he was a little frightened.
“After a few seconds, I hear a popping sound like a gunshot,” Utz said Monday. “I just turned off the lights and kept quiet.”
Utz said three police officers were at his door about 45 minutes later. They informed him that there was a car chase and a suspect “put up a fight and he was shot and killed by a police officer,” he said.
Authorities have reported that a Santa Fe police officer shot and killed a man while the officer and a state police agent were attempting to arrest the man following a motor vehicle theft and a chase that began in the city. The suspect had evaded officers, gotten in the officer’s patrol unit and placed it in drive.
The Santa Fe officer, after being pinned between the unit and a tree and being knocked down, fired one round, striking the suspect in the abdomen, according to authorities.
Santa Fe police Monday continued to refuse to release the name of the officer involved.
“The investigation is being handled by the State Police,” Santa Fe police spokesman Greg Gurulé said in an email. “We are not releasing the officer’s name until the victim has been positively identified and his criminal record researched out of concern for the officer and his family.”
State police also haven’t yet released the name of the dead man.
Utz said he didn’t know the man.
Santa Fe police, state police and the Regional Emergency Communications Center on Monday also denied The New Mexican’s requests for original records of entry of the incident, such as dispatch recordings. They cited the state police investigation in making the denials.
Greg Williams, president of the board of directors for the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, said state police cannot deny the release of such information “because there’s an ongoing investigation.”
“There’s almost always an ongoing investigation,” he said.
Also Monday, Santa Fe District Attorney Marco Serna said he had advised the New Mexico District Attorney’s Association that he is seeking district attorneys to volunteer on a panel that would determine if the police shooting was justified.
Serna said he will not serve on the panel, which will have about five members, and he said he will appoint a special prosecutor for the case if the panel determines the shooting wasn’t justified.
Serna, who took office in January, said the procedure will remove the conflict of interest when a prosecutor investigates the police they work with. Previous district attorneys used secret grand juries to decide whether police shootings were justified.
The fatal shooting is the third by Santa Fe police since Jan. 1, 2015, according to data maintained by The Washington Post.
Tire marks and shards of what appear to be vehicle glass are now the only signs of the incident in Utz’s driveway.
Neighbors on Chaparral Drive say police cordoned off the area with crime scene tape and remained there until just before 10 a.m. Sunday.
Angela Rael, 19, who lives next door to Utz, said she was watching television with her sister when they heard sirens Saturday night.
Rael said she did not hear the gunshot but heard yelling and saw officers walking around Utz’s yard with flashlights after the shooting.
Contact Justin Horwath at 505-986-3017 or email@example.com.