NM behind the times by allowing officers to shoot at cars

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – One of the things that the Department of Justice wants Albuquerque cops to stop doing is shooting at moving vehicles.

The feds say the risks are obvious: If an officer fires at a moving vehicle and misses, they could hit an innocent person.

The other risk is that they could leave the driver dead, with the car moving out of control.

The report cites APD’s fatal shooting of Mickey Owings as he was fleeing a Walmart parking lot – saying he didn’t threaten anyone’s life and that “the damage to property, as serious as it was, did not justify taking Owings’ life.”

The feds also said modern policing policies eliminate shooting at vehicles and criticized APD for not updating their policy sooner.

They pointed to a 2011 Police Executive Research Forum report the department commissioned itself, that recommended prohibiting officers from shooting at cars.

“The department’s failure to update its policy to conform to modern police practices places its officers and citizens at higher risk of harm,” the report said.

Eliminating shooting at vehicles would be a big policy change for APD.

But even if that happens, a lot of other New Mexico law enforcement agencies still allow it.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department says firing at a vehicle is a last resort and a supervisor has to authorize it.

State Police policy says officers can shoot, but there has to be an imminent threat and it can’t pose an unreasonable risk for officers or others.

Despite all this concern, the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy reportedly started a new curriculum a few months ago to train officers for “live fire vehicle stops.”

None of the agencies wanted to comment.

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