Traffic stop ends in officer-involved shooting near Gallup

GALLUP, N.M. (KRQE) – The State Police Chief says an officer jumped into a car when a suspect took off during a traffic stop. That scary situation resulted in the officer shooting the driver.

Traffic was tied up for hours on I-40 after while State Police investigated the shooting on the interstate that left a suspect seriously wounded.

The shooting took place during a traffic stop along eastbound I-40 near Gallup around 7:30 a.m. The chief says the officer pulled over Stephen Thompson of Oklahoma.

NMSP says Thompson got out of the car but then jumped back in through the passenger door. The officer followed, hopping into the front passenger seat of the suspect’s car to stop him.

State Police Chief Pete Kassetas says Thompson hit the gas with the officer in the front seat and sped down the interstate for about a mile. Meanwhile, police say a woman who was sitting in the backseat hit and scratched the officer. That’s when the officer took action.

“My officer, in fear for his life, pulls his service weapon and fires one round in the abdomen of the driver, which persuades him rather quickly to pull the vehicle over,” Chief Kassetas said.

NMSP says the State Police officer shot Thompson, who was then taken to the hospital for a gunshot wound to the stomach.

The officer was not hurt.

When asked about the officer’s decision to get in the car with the suspect, Chief Kassetas said it is not common.

“Does it happen? Yeah. No, we certainly don’t like to see that, but the officer’s doing his job, trying to get the vehicle and the person stopped.”

Thompson’s condition remains unknown.

Police say they don’t know yet why Thompson tried to take off, but did say he’s had some gun charges in the past.

The officer has been a State Police officer for a year and a half. Before that, he was with Navajo Police for 12 years.

During the investigation, officials had to close a portion of the interstate and traffic was backed up for miles.

Drivers were being diverted to exit to the west side of Gallup. Then they were rerouted back onto the interstate past that crime scene.

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