A caravan of cars gathered in front of the governor’s mansion Friday to demand the release of additional information in the fatal police shooting of Rodney Applewhite, an unarmed Black man who was killed during a traffic stop last month near Los Lunas.

“The community has a right to know what happened to Rodney,” said Selinda Guerrero, who belongs to the groups Building Power for Black New Mexico and Millions for Prisoners New Mexico. “We have a right to know, and transparency has not happened yet. [New Mexico State Police] have not revealed what happened to Rodney on the side of that rural highway.”

Applewhite, 25, was driving from Indiana to Arizona to visit family for Thanksgiving when he was pulled over by state police Nov. 19.

Police said in an initial news release that officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop, but Applewhite fled. A short time later, police caught up to Applewhite and attempted to take him into custody, which resulted in a scuffle and “at least one” gunshot that left Applewhite dead, police said.

Applewhite’s family said they were not contacted until at least nine hours after the shooting and had not received any additional information in the two weeks following.

That was the only information made available until Friday, when, as protesters’ vehicles snaked around Calle Estado to the governor’s mansion, state police issued a second news release with a new narrative on the shooting.

According to the second release, officers approached Applewhite as he stood in the middle of Manzano Expressway following the pursuit. Police said Applewhite “kneeled on the ground and made the symbol of a gun with his right hand.”

Applewhite told police, “You can cuff me,” while telling a second officer not to approach, according to the second release.

Applewhite went for a sergeant’s gun and attempted to pull it from the holster, police said.

State police Officer Gene Gonzales fired two rounds at Applewhite “in an attempt to stop the attack on the sergeant,” striking him twice, police said.

Applewhite died at a hospital in Albuquerque.

Around 7:30 a.m. on the day of the fatal shooting, the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a homeowner about a burglary on Pueblitos Road in Belen, police said. The homeowner confronted the man, who asked, “Is this my house?”

After being told no, the man asked if the home was in South Bend before being told to leave. Applewhite matched the description of the man and his vehicle, according to the release.

Guerrero, the protester, said in a phone call a few hours after the demonstration that the timing of the release was “deliberate,” while calling for state Attorney General Hector Balderas to open an investigation.

“We’re very saddened by state police’s response,” Guerrero said. “In particular that they would lead with the headline that says ‘suspect.’ We understand that narratives such as this are intended to devalue our lives. We are even more disheartened that there is no indication of them taking responsibility or even a suggestion that a transparent investigation would happen.”

Friday’s protest began in Albuquerque in the parking lot of Cliff’s Amusement Park before leading a small caravan up Interstate 25 to Santa Fe. Demonstrators met at the DeVargas Center to decorate vehicles, make signs and prepare to drive to the governor’s mansion.

Building Power for Black New Mexico and Millions for Prisoners New Mexico organized the Santa Fe leg of the protest along with Free Them All Friday, as well as other activist groups who held demonstrations in Indiana and Arizona. All of the demonstrations were livestreamed on Zoom.

Sarah Byrden of Santa Fe said she felt “incredible sadness and disgust” after hearing about Applewhite’s death.

“It’s embarrassing,” Byrden said. “It is totally embarrassing. To hear that it happened, but how it has been handled on top of that in the first place feels like a failure. It feels completely tone [deaf] to what is happening across the country.”

(42) comments

Katherine Martinez

This story was indeed pre-maturely written prior to the cam footage being released. See it, then draw your conclusions. The 'victim' was driving and weaving traffic erratically at a high speed, endangering others, completely warranting a stop; then flees the scene after stopping. When later found in the middle of the road, he does not fully comply with the officers orders, then as plain as day, attempts to grab the officers firearm. Don't grab the officers firearm.

Khal Spencer

I emailed the author and Editor Phill Casaus asking them to post the video so folks could see something rather than drawing conclusions based on their prejudices. That has not happened yet.

One can assume racism, but that is begging the question. Its better to look at what happened but if you do that, you put in jeopardy one's predetermined beliefs. Sigh.

Katherine Martinez

I enjoy your input Khal, always very fair and truthful. In this case as in so many others, clear video footage will belie those on their crusade, who have hijacked the real cause of true embedded racism in this country, not just coincidental traffic stops that have an unfortunate ending. I am truly sorry this mans family and their loss. I saw that the officer asked for a taser however, I'm not sure why that wasn't utilized--again, a split second life or death decision when the officers firearm is being grabbed out of his holster, that is life threatening stuff right there.

Ivanhoe Miller

I have lived in 9 states and traveled to 40 states. By far New Mexico is the most racist towards Blacks, especially Black men. How do I know I am a Black man with a Bachelors degree and lived in this state for over 20 years. I have experienced discrimination at Las Campans as Lead Paramedic. I actually started their Paramedic Program in 2006. Their administration refuse to put my face on their website. They are the worst racist. I am also former police officer with many years of experience. This incident with Mr. Applewhite did not have to end with a shooting. Many of the the police officers today are cowards. I started out as a teenager as an Auxiliary Police Officer working in Harlem with no gun. If you that afraid don't be a cop. The state officer had time to tackle or baton Applewhite but he was afraid because he is a big Black man! New Mexico, you talk about diversity but you hate Black people. Stop being hypocrites.

Ivanhoe Miller

Also, as a person who has been through three police academies. This stop should have been a felony car stop. The suspect comes back towards officers voice and drops to his knees and then is cuffed.

Khal Spencer

Here is video.

https://www.krqe.com/news/new-mexico/nmsp-release-lapel-video-of-shooting-killing-of-rodney-applewhite/

John Martinez

It is sad that another death of a black young man has happened. But if you look at the lapel cam it shows that this young man tried to obtain the officer's gun. What would have happened if he was successful, he's not trying to obtain this gun for any other reason but to harm the officers.It also shows that this young man was not just "on his way home" as the story states. If this was the case there would be no reason for him to be on this particular road . I have had plenty of stops by an officer and not once did i flee or try to fight with officers. Sad circumstances but not wrong for the officer to want to go home to his family or protect his fellow officer.

Khal Spencer

John, do you have a link to the lapel footage?

John Martinez

krqe.com

Khal Spencer

thank you, but found it!

John Martinez

https://www.krqe.com/news/new-mexico/nmsp-release-lapel-video-of-shooting-killing-of-rodney-applewhite/

Khal Spencer

I suggest folks really watch and listen to the audio and video.

Mike Johnson

The diehard BLM fanatics will ignore these facts, unfortunately.

Bonnie Cox

Could not agree more. [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Emily Koyama

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Chris Mechels

As a reminder of what we are dealing with here; http://nmindepth.com/2016/03/23/puff-of-smoke-justice-system-designed-to-clear-cop-who-killed-jeanette-anaya/ a brilliant piece by Jeff Proctor, concerning the NMSP killing of Jeanette Anaya is November 2013. It was a homicide and cover up, with DA Pacheco aiding in the cover up.

AG Hector Balderas, and DA Serna, danced around this case for years, because it is SO CLEAR, that the Officer should have clearly been charged, and that other NMSP officer perjured themselves before the Grand Jury, with Pacheco aiding and abetting.

A civil case was brought, and settled for $3 million. Neither Balderas or Serna wished to take on NMSP and no charges were ever brought.

No illusions folks. Murder and cover up, by our NMSP, one of many such cases. Yes, this is a police state, so lets admit it, and fix it. I've been working on the police training issue for 7 years now, following the Anaya killing, and can tell you with assurance that our NM police training is using an ILLEGAL training curriculum, since 2013, and that AG Hector Balderas knows it, as he Chairs the LEA Board. And THAT is how deep the corruption runs in our state. The recently departed DPS Secretary Mark Shea was one of those responsible for destroying police training in 2013. It goes right to the top, as MLG installed Shea at DPS, in spite of his background.

Emily Koyama

"As a reminder of what we are dealing with here".

Yes, thanks, Mechels, for reminding us how you pile on the "murder by cops" bandwagon (as usual) before getting all the facts. I'm sure there is plenty more investigating to do in this case, but based on the lapel video, it does not look like "murder" by police. If this man had succeeded in getting the Officer's gun, the story could be about one or both of the Officers dead, instead.

That, I'm guessing, would have been the preferrable outcome for you and most of these people in the protest.

Jim Klukkert

Ms. Emily Koyama, you surmise, in this case "I'm guessing," that those who oppose your views would "prefer" a terrible outcome of this incident, in this case not a dead young African-American, but "one or both Officers dead, instead."

Since there is not a hint of that sentiment in this article or on this comments page, it seems that your caricature of opposing partisans here is at best speculative. Your comments on last article on this story referred to the "the usual parade of cop haters start spewing their usual tripe."

The pattern of your consistently negative caricatures, despite any supporting material, seems more a reactive insult than a reflective analysis. Your political perspective throws shade on the issues, just as the times demand clear thinking that sheds light on the challenges of this difficult time.

Try harder, please.

Gene Hill

Indeed, the Anaya case did have the appearance of an out and out murder by NMSP. We didn't have the recording devices available back then so we went ever really know.

Angel Ortiz

My initial question is why run from the police and then attempt to attack a police officer after the stop? To add more fuel to the fire by using the "lynching" in their statements is pure nonsense.

Jim Klukkert

Angel Ortiz: Perhaps the young man was suffering a mental health crisis. His behavior seems lots less than rational.

Just suppose he was having some sort of 'psychotic break.' How might we then view the death of this man? Are there not better ways for those who swear to serve and protect, to deescalate and then resolve the situation?

It does not seem the public safety, nor Rodney Applewhite, was served and protected in this tragic event. We must be able to do better.

Khal Spencer

Some of this dialog does suggest we ought to be asking about state of mind. From the video link:

Then, there was a scuffle between Applewhite and the second officer. Officer Gonzales fires two shots, hitting Applewhite.

“Sir, don’t move please,” said Ofc. Gonzales.

“Can you finish me please,” asked Applewhite.

“No, no,” said Ofc. Gonzales. ...

We’re gonna [sic] get you an ambulance,” said Ofc. Gonzales.

“It hurts so bad, man,” said Applewhite.

“I know, man,” said Ofc. Gonzales. “Sorry dude, hey- why did you go for the gun?”

“Because I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do,” said Applewhite.

“No dude,” said Ofc. Gonzales. “You’re supposed to just get arrested bro.”

Lee Vigil

Hard to make any kind of judgment call at this time, since there still isn't not enough information. In the meantime, I hope he wasn't racially profiled and pulled over simply because he was Black. Really hoping there's video evidence.

Khal Spencer

If he was doing 90 in a 45? Doesn't sound like it was unreasonable that he was pulled over.

Bonnie Cox

Lee, we have plenty of facts. The diehard BLM folks will get someone hurt eventually.

Protests are not safe places.

Lee Vigil

Now that we have the video it's pretty clear that the officers were justified in their actions. There was something wrong with this guy. Maybe he was impaired, maybe he was mentally off? The police were justified in stopping him and pursuing him. Really unfortunate outcome - he would've lived if he'd pulled over. As for the protesters, they aren't helping themselves out. I believe the basic tenets of BLM are justified, but protesting before you have the facts, isn't helpful to your cause. Neither is destruction of private property and looting. I'm an MLK and Gandhi kinda person when it comes to achieving outcomes and social change. So glad we have dash cams and lapels now. It keeps the police honest while also protecting their reputation. They're doing a very dangerous job - especially nowadays when just about anyone has a gun.

David Cartwright

My personal experience with the state police on multiple occasions suggests that power-plays, lies, and other inappropriate conduct is common place, particularly with those that have out of state license plates. That doesn't determine the result here, but when the police culture is corrupt, so often are the outcomes.

Khal Spencer

I was headed into Cuba one sunny afternoon just after buying a WRX wagon, so was feeling frisky. Doing 62 in what I thought was a 55, I saw an oncoming NMSP sedan do a quick 180 degree turn after passing me. I didn't see anyone else on the road so I figured, "oh, H*ll, what is this about" and immediately pulled over.

Licence, registration, and insurance card please.

Sure.

Sir, do you know you were doing 62 in a 50?

Really, no, where was the sign?

About a mile back. Here is your ticket.

Ok, thank you, I will go back and look for the sign.

Sure enough, a mile back was a teeny little sign. My own Chief, Wayne Torpy, was mad that I didn't contest it, calling it a well known speed trap.

But nothing really bad happened that day. I imagine if I ran the cop, it would not have ended nicely.

Emily Koyama

I've not been pulled over in 16 years. When I was, the Deputy was firm but polite. If you are being pulled over on "multiple occasions, may I suggest being a better driver?

Khal Spencer

Its rare for me, too, Emily. That happened in 2007.

Lupe Molina

How can the State Police get away with this? What member of the public could just change it's story after a shooting 2 weeks later? Where's the body cam footage? Come on, AG Balderas. Something obviously stinks here.

Bonnie Cox

There is video footage. Clearly Applewhite tried to get the gun from the officer. Lupe, educate yourself before you post.

Lupe Molina

Chill, yo. Hadn't been released yet.

Khal Spencer

Lynching? Puleeze...

That group just lost credibility with me. Based on the reports, there is reasonable suspicion on my part that its better to wait for the full police report before jumping on any bandwagons, either pro-cop or pro-BLM.

If you don't want to raise the stakes, don't run the cops or get into a wrestling match for a gun. If those two things happened, the outcome will never be good.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup] I agree, and when they demand:“The community has a right to know what happened to Rodney,”, what part of the Constitution includes this "right"?????

HRH Prince Michael Jauregui

Great point. After BILLIONS of dollars in damage to small businesses -most will never recover- and numerous lives lost? Ah, "peaceful protesters".

#SmallBusinessMatters

#BurnCrucifixesandHolyBiblesforJustice????

Donato Velasco

if they really wanted to stop the killings of black people they should drive up to Detroit and other communities with high rates of blacks being killed and protest to stop the killings..

Mark Brown

Police Lynching and NMMP shooting a black man is a far reaching stretch to connect the two events. NMMP is a professional organization who will conduct an investigation. Also they are required to have their body and car cams . I would take the inference to mean that if it was any other race other than black, ie. white, native American Hispanic, them it would have been acceptable. These groups have no idea what happened and find any nugget to stir hate and discontent

HRH Prince Michael Jauregui

A most-excellent observation, sir.

Donato Velasco

people should comply with the law first and have their day in court.. its not a race issue ,,,

Stefanie Beninato

You seem clueless or blind as to what it is to be a Black person stopped by the police or vigilantes in the US. Ask Ahmaud Arbery, the runner who was killed in GA or George Floyd...

Mike Johnson

Indeed it is not a race issue, but some want to make anything and everything a race issue that is just mostly police enforcing the laws and protecting themselves.

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