New bodycam footage shows an Albuquerque police officer killing a man who police say brandished a gun after he was pulled over on his moped, and refused to drop the weapon, authorities said.
On Monday night, Albuquerque police officer Jon O’Guin attempted to pull over the 43-year-old suspect, Robert Savelli, who was driving a moped without a license plate near Vassar and Menaul, Department spokeswoman Celina Espinoza said.
According to Officer O’Guin, Savelli refused to comply with his commands, fleeing from him, at which time he turned to face the officer holding the gun, Espinoza said.
The Officer clearly felt threatened at some point, and then responded by opening fire on Savelli. Espinoza refused to discuss the circumstances of the threat but it's clear in the video the man did have a gun, and Espinoza acknowledged Savelli pointed his gun at the officer.
It's the third deadly shooting this year by officers at Albuquerque Police Department as the agency implements court-ordered reforms following a United States Justice Department investigation of its deadly force policies.
The 2014 shooting involving a homeless man who was holding two knives prompted widespread angry protests across the city and the backfire from the outrage was that which prompted the government investigation.
In the federal report on the police department, it described “a culture of aggression and faulted officers for using unreasonable force with the mentally ill”.
Since then, however, the department has seen fewer deadly police shootings, trying to implement a “last resort” policy to using deadly force. Last year officers wounded or killed a total of six people, a drop from nine individuals in 2015.
Critics from the ACLU have attacked the department regardless with their Anti-Police rhetoric.
"Unfortunately we don't seem to have the systems in place yet in this department to adequately determine whether a use of force is justified or not, and so that's a big part of the problem," said Steve Allen of the American Civil Liberties Union in New Mexico.
Also supporting the officer's claim however in this incident is the surveillance footage across the street at a local business which shows O’Guin park the police cruiser and runs towards the suspect quickly trying to catch Savelli, who ran north.
At this time O’Guin’s bodycam shows that Savelli was armed with a gun and had started to turn toward the officer when O’Guin fired, so it clearly justified the deadly force.
“As you will see he had split milliseconds to react to the suspect’s actions,” said Celina Espinoza.
In the footage from the bodycam, you can see O’Guin keeps his gun pointed at Savelli while additional officers arrive at the scene to attempt to ensure the suspect doesn't grab the gun.
Police say that Savelli had multiple warrants out for his arrest and also had a small amount of methamphetamine in his possession.
The department says that O’Guin was involved in at least one prior deadly shooting, where he shot and killed Dennis Humphrey during a standoff with police officers last year.
To his avail, Officer O’Guin has also appeared in multiple positive headlines for buying a woman groceries and saving a choking puppy, a sign that this officer doesn't have some death wish towards criminals as the ACLU often tries to allege.
Sometimes, the bad guys are simply that, and the officers have no choice. Blue lives matter, and all lives matter, but if you fail to comply with law enforcement officer or brandish a weapon you're asking for disaster.