Las Cruces DA clears officers in July shooting death
Las Cruces, NM (KTSM) — New Mexico's Third Judicial District Attorney's Office has determined that the July 2 shooting of Jose Estrada was justified and has cleared the three Las Cruces Police officers involved in the case.
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.
Late afternoon on Tuesday, July 2, Las Cruces Police officers responded to a residence on the 1300 block of Bronco Way after an emergency call describing an armed man with a gun who was threatening people.
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.
Jose Estrada died July 2 after officers discharged their duty weapons, striking the 37 year old.
“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.
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.
Editor’s Note: See the attached photo of the Crosman pellet gun (top) recovered from the scene and an actual AR-15/M-16 style rifle.