UPDATE: Las Cruces Case Appears To Be "Suicide By Cop"
Las Cruces – The Las Cruces Police Department and a multi-agency task force are continuing to investigate Tuesday morning's shooting death of 23-year-old Lance G. Hummell who threatened officers with a 4-foot long samurai-type sword.
Hummell, who resided at the Mesilla Manor Apartments, was fatally shot just after 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 13, after he aggressively closed distance on two Las Cruces Police officers at the apartment complex at 1101 E. Boutz Road.
The preliminary investigation has revealed that Tuesday's incident may be the fulfillment of what's commonly referred as a suicide by cop' scenario.
Detectives learned that Hummell is the one who originated the call to 911 declaring that a man was walking around the apartment complex waving a long sword. Detectives have recovered additional information that leads them to believe Hummell was suicidal and wanted to provoke officers into using lethal force.
Just prior to 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 13, Las Cruces Police were dispatched to the Mesilla Manor Apartments and, shortly thereafter, two LCPD officers arrived on scene and located the man - later identified as Hummell - in the northwest parking lot of the apartment complex. Hummell was brandishing a long sword and approached the officers in an aggressive manner. He refused repeated demands to drop his weapon.
One of the officers, a seven year veteran of the Las Cruces Police Department, fired his duty weapon striking Hummell at least once. Hummell was pronounced dead at the scene.
The LCPD officers were not physically injured during the incident. As is standard procedure both officers are on administrative leave.
In 2010 Las Cruces Police and Dona Ana County Sheriff's deputies were summoned to incidents involving Hummell on no less than five separate occasions prior to Tuesday.
The Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office filed a report on Jan. 9, 2010, after Hummell was involved in a verbal argument with a household member while holding what was described as a long sword.
Just two days later, on Jan. 11, Hummell was transported to an area hospital after it was determined that he was contemplating suicide. Twice in February Las Cruces Police had contact with Hummell because of arguments he was having with a household member. And on June 15 police spoke with him after a domestic disturbance was reported at his residence.
The Tuesday, July 13, incident was the sixth time this year that police or sheriff's deputies responded to an incident involving Hummell.
The joint Officer-Involved Incident Task Force includes investigators from New Mexico State Police, the Las Cruces Police Department, the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office and the New Mexico State University Police Department. Upon completion of the investigation, the findings are forwarded to the Third Judicial District Attorney's Office for review.
The phenomenon of suicide by cop has increased and has been studied since the late 1980's. Suicide by cop is a method in which a suicidal individual deliberately acts in a threatening way toward law enforcement in an attempt to provoke lethal force.
One particular study, reported in the publication "Science Daily," found that 36 percent of all police-involved shootings in North America can be attributed to suicide by cop.