New Mexico

Las Cruces police: Man pointed gun at police before officer-involved shooting

Las Cruces officer involved in officer involved shooting cleared

LAS CRUCES, NM -  

Las Cruces Police Chief Patrick Gallagher told members of the media that an officer fired his weapon three times in late September after a Las Cruces man pointed his gun at law enforcement.

"Anytime a police officer is involved in an officer-involved shooting, I am concerned," Gallagher said. 

On Sunday, September 23rd, Gallagher said a 14-year-old girl called 911 at 3:45 a.m. to report a domestic violence incident on Lees Drive near Idaho Avenue. She told dispatch that her mother and 34-year-old Charles Campolla were fighting and that Campolla was armed and "a little bit drunk," according to the department.

According to the department, three officers who reported to the scene heard the slide of a firearm being racked back and forth. An officer approached Campolla and asked him to put his hands in the air, but police say Campolla refused.

Gallagher told members of the media he is "concerned with the actions of some of the people the officers are encountering, who are failing to comply with the officers' direction."

In a video shown to members of the media, the 34-year-old repeatedly denied that he had a weapon, but officers later discovered a gun placed on top of the wheel of his vehicle. The officer fired three bullets that struck a vehicle on the property, but police believe the third bullet ricocheted off the vehicle and struck the window of the home.

The officer who fired the three shots did not activate his body camera, but the other two officers did, according to the department.

"They should turn on their camera any time the use of force is anticipated," Gallagher said. "Going to a call like this where use of force is promptly anticipated, he should have put his camera on."

Gallagher acknowledged the increase in officer-involved shootings in the past few months as "concerning," but he said officers often have no choice.

"When somebody's pointing a gun at somebody, our options are very limited," Gallagher said. 

Campolla was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a peace officer. The officer who fired the shot was placed on paid administrative leave initially, but has now returned, Gallagher said.

The incident remains under investigation by the officer-involved incident task force, which includes members of New Mexico State Police, Las Cruces Police, the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State University Police.

According to the police department, there have been six officer involved shootings this year, including three in September. Four of the shootings have been fatal, a spokesman confirmed.

In 2017, there were two shootings, according to the department. In 2016, there were three shootings. in 2015, there was one shooting,

All the shootings in 2018 have either been justified or are still under investigation, according to the department.


UPDATE: A Las Cruces officer who fired three rounds at a man pointing a handgun - has been cleared of any wrong doing.  

Las Cruces Police said Officer D'Anthony Roohr was one of three officers who responded to a home on the 1300 block of Lees Dr.

Roohr fired three rounds at a car where Charles Campolla tried to hide.

Campolla was not hit.


 


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