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Las Cruces chief worried about officer-involved shootings

October 6, 2018

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The Las Cruces police chief expressed concern about a recent string of police shootings in the southern New Mexico city, while deflecting some of the responsibility from officers.

Las Cruces police officers have shot at suspects in six different incidents this year — three times in the past month — and Chief Patrick Gallagher said this week that he is troubled by the trend, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported this week.

Gallagher said the speed at which such incidents develop often make it difficult for officers to try to defuse a situation without firing their guns.

“Sometimes these incidents happen in a matter of seconds, precluding the opportunity to engage in any type of dialogue,” Gallagher said Wednesday during a news conference. “When somebody’s pointing a gun at somebody our options are very limited. We have less lethal options. These circumstances haven’t really lent themselves to that.”

Gallagher also deflected some of the responsibility for such incidents from police. He said many incidents in which officers fire on suspects involve people with a history of mental illness, substance abuse and domestic violence.

“Those are the problems we need to work on as a community,” he said.

The most recent officer-involved shooting in Las Cruces happened Sept. 27, when police shot and killed Juan Angel Pinedo on the Las Cruces High School campus.

On Sept. 23, an officer fired three shots at a man in a domestic dispute. The man was not hit.

The incident is being investigated by the Officer-Involved Incident Task Force, made up of detectives from the New Mexico State Police, Las Cruces Police, the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office, and New Mexico State University Police.

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Information from: Las Cruces Sun-News, http://www.lcsun-news.com

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