Las Cruces Officers Cleared in Deadly Shooting
POSTED: Saturday, February 25, 2012 - 1:47pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - 11:06pm
LAS CRUCES - Cleared of wrongdoing. That's the finding from an investigative team of New Mexico police agencies, after a shooting in December that killed a Las Cruces man.
It was two months ago, on the corner of Espina and Foster, that Las Cruces Police officers shot and killed 37-year-old Robert Montes. Friday, the public learned the officers' fate.
"We believe the officers acted in accordance and standards, rules and procedures for law enforcement, and all officers, and are hereby cleared from any wrongdoing," said Doña Ana County District Attorney Amy Orlando.
She revealed hidden details about what happened that December night.
According to Orlando, Montes was a passenger in a woman's car when Las Cruces police pulled them over for a broken taillight.
Officers told investigators they looked on the floorboard and discovered a pipe used for meth.
They asked both Montes and the woman to get out, Orlando said, but then officers saw Montes inch closer back toward the car.
That's when everything unraveled.
"Evidence from the investigation; physical evidence, interview statements of each of the officers and witnesses nearby, support the fact that Montes retrieved the handgun, revolver first, and fired it first," she said.
Three of the four officers there that night, Ofc. Cody Austin, Ofc. Peter Bradley, Jr., and Sgt. Todd Froatz fired 19 shots at Montes. Ten of them struck Montes, and he died on the spot, said Orlando.
Las Cruces Police Chief Richard Williams says he didn't release the names of the officers involved until now, because of threats against the department.
"Our officers put their lives on the line every day for complete strangers, and it's time they receive the respect they deserve," said Williams.
Some citizens say, they're not so sure about their story.
One man Local 4 News spoke to says he has a problem with the investigative review board, which includes a member from the Las Cruces Police Dept.
"Once again, we have the same problem. Police investigating police," said Paul Borunda of Las Cruces.
The police investigative review team is made up of members from the New Mexico State Police, Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office, New Mexico State University police, and Las Cruces P.D.