As Santa Fe police Officer Brandon Deets arrived at the Big R farm and ranch store June 7, he asked someone at the scene if the man he was approaching had a knife.
Less than 90 seconds later, Deets’ body camera video shows, he shot Joseph Galassini three times as the man came toward him with a large bowie-style knife raised in his right hand.
Galassini fell and began to writhe on the ground.
Police video shows Galassini, 33, ignored multiple orders from officers to put down the knife and charged at them before Deets fired. Galassini is facing multiple counts of aggravated battery and assault with a deadly weapon, as well as aggravated assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon, according to a criminal complaint.
He was booked into the Santa Fe County jail after receiving treatment for his wounds at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center and will be held until trial.
Deputy Police Chief Ben Valdez said in an email Tuesday that Deets and Officer Cesar Ornelas, who also was at the scene, “were cleared to return to full duty and have reported back to work.”
The department will not start an internal investigation into the shooting until after New Mexico State Police completes it own investigation and prosecutors decide whether to file charges against the officers.
The District Attorney’s Office, or a panel of district attorneys designated by the office, will review the state police investigation and determine whether the officers’ actions were justified under state law, Valdez said. Then the Santa Fe Police Department will investigate whether the officers followed the agency’s policies.
According to the criminal complaint, the shooting followed Galassini attempting to steal a tan jacket from the store.
Citing surveillance video, the complaint said he pulled into the Big R parking lot just moments before the arrival of a couple who would become involved in a skirmish with him.
Daniel Tapia and his girlfriend, Idalee Lopez, showed up at the store to drop off Lopez’s granddaughter to the child’s mother, Anastasia Lopez, the complaint said. Anastasia had been helping her boyfriend, Big R assistant manager Bill Ritch, inside the store.
While the child transfer was taking place, Galassini walked into the store wearing a dark shirt and a bandana around his face. About four minutes later, he walked out wearing a tan jacket and headed for his truck, the complaint said.
Anastasia Lopez put down her daughter, ran toward Galassini, and tried to pull off the jacket, the complaint said.
Lopez’s mother and Tapia followed her, and the two men got into a struggle in the front seat of Galassini’s truck, according to the complaint. Then an unidentified man approached and appeared to take a small pistol from his pocket and point it at Galassini.
Ritch took the pistol from the man and pointed it at Galassini as he backed away, the complaint said.
The body camera footage shows Deets arrive as Galassini is sitting in his truck and two men are standing near the truck’s open door.
Someone says, “He has a large knife,” and Deets tells everyone to stand back as Galassini steps out of the truck holding the knife in his right hand.
The video shows Galassini approach Deets. Deets repeatedly tells him to put the knife down.
Galassini begins walking toward Ornelas but shifts his attention back to Deets and raises the knife in his right hand. Deets fires.
About five minutes later, Deets tells an officer off camera: “He charged at me once. I tried talking him down. He charged at Ornelas, then he charged at me, and I had to shoot him.”
When asked if Anastasia Lopez might be charged with a crime for initiating a confrontation with Galassini, Valdez said the events prior to the shooting are still under investigation.
“Although Mr. Galassini has been arrested and charged with criminal offenses, the events that occurred prior to the arrival of our officers remains under active investigation by Santa Fe Police detectives,” Valdez said.
“In order to maintain the integrity of this active investigation,” he added, “we are unable to provide additional information on the investigation at this time.”