Las Cruces Police Cleared In Fatal Shooting

May 3, 2013

  Federal Magistrate Judge Gregory B. Wormuth of the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico has ruled that the lethal action of a Las Cruces Police officer was proper and justified in the July 13,  2010, shooting death of 23-year-old Lance Hummell. Hummell was fatally shot after he refused orders by the two officers to drop a 4-foot Samurai sword as he approached them outside his residence in the 1100 block of East Boutz Road.

“The loss of life in any police-related incident is regrettable. Our officers are trained to use every means possible to avoid a fatal situation. But in those rare circumstances where there is no other recourse, our officers must take all actions necessary to protect themselves and members of the public who are in immediate danger,” said Las Cruces Police Chief Richard Williams.

The ruling followed a three-day bench trial before Judge Wormuth on April 8, 9 and 11.

City Manager Robert Garza, who attended each day of the three day trial said, “After hearing testimony from both sides, I can say without a doubt that our police officers went out of their way to diffuse a dangerous situation, but were ultimately left with no other choice than to take the necessary action to negate what had the potential to become an even more volatile situation.”

“It is important for the public to know that the courageous men and women who proudly and dutifully serve the Las Cruces Police Department, and every other law enforcement agency, willfully place themselves in constant danger. And they do so with the full knowledge that they may have to take action that results in the loss of life, including their own. I for one respect their decision to serve, and I fully support the action of the officer who fired the fatal shots. Let’s not only keep the family of the victim in our thoughts and prayers, but also the officer and his family who from now on must live with the outcome of that day," said Mayor Ken Miyagishima.