DA Clears Las Cruces Officers In Shooting

Oct 11, 2013

  The Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office has determined that three Las Cruces Police officers involved in the July 2 shooting of Jose Estrada were justified in the actions they took.

Jose Estrada died July 2 after officers discharged their duty weapons, striking the 37 year old.

In a letter delivered Oct. 10 to Las Cruces Police Chief Richard Williams, District Attorney Mark D’Antonio said, “Based upon the results of the investigation presented to the District Attorney’s office, I find the shooting to be justified.”

The decision clears LCPD officers Erik Cook, Richard P. Garcia and Eric Guerra of any wrongdoing.

“With what I learned from our initial investigation, I was confident that our officers would be cleared,” said Chief Williams. “These officers faced a very difficult situation and responded professionally and in accordance with our policies.”

A multi-agency task force investigated the shooting and determined that Estrada disobeyed multiple commands from officers and pointed what appeared to be an assault-style rifle at them, forcing the shooting. Estrada died later that evening at University Medical Center of El Paso.

At around 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 2, Las Cruces Police officers were dispatched to a residence on the 1300 block of Bronco Way in what one caller described as a man armed with a gun and threatening people.

The investigation revealed that officers made contact with Estrada who was initially unarmed and standing outside a residence. Estrada retreated into the residence only to emerge carrying what appeared to be an assault-style rifle that he pointed at the officers, prompting the use of less-lethal and lethal force.

The investigation revealed that the weapon Estrada pointed at the officers was a Crosman M-16 style pellet rifle that strongly resembles an AR-15/M-16 style rifles.

Cook has been a Las Cruces Police officer since August 2012, Garcia since August 2004 and Guerra since March 2000. The three officers were initially placed on standard administrative leave but have all since returned to duty.

The Dona Ana County Officer-Involved Incident Task Force that conducted the investigation includes investigators from New Mexico State Police, the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico State University Police and Las Cruces Police. The task force reported its findings to the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office.