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October 17, 2013
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Dash cam captures police shooting suspect as he flees in SUV

Roberto Mendez refused to exit the vehicle, then peeled off, nearly striking a Santa Fe police officer

By PoliceOne Staff

SANTA FE, N.M. — A newly released dash cam video captures a shooting that occurred in early August when a suspect in a stolen vehicle began to flee police.

According to, Roberto Mendez, 25, refused to exit his vehicle after being instructed to do so by officers Stephen Fonte and John DeBaca. Mendez was driving a Ford Explorer that had been reported stolen. 

The video shows the SUV spin backwards, crashing into a police cruiser and nearly striking DeBaca.

It is then that Officer Fonte opens fire.

According to the report, Fonte aimed for the tires, intending to avoid hitting multiple passengers, including a 4-year-old boy, that were inside the vehicle.

"I didn't want to hit the female in the back, but I knew a police officer was in serious danger so that's why I was trying to disable the vehicle," Fonte said.

As Mendez continued to drive away, Officer DeBaca opened fire, hitting Mendez in the cheek, which forced him to pull over.

"I remember seeing basically an angle of [the driver's] head where I felt that was an appropriate time to take the shot and I did so," DeBaca said.

Mendez has a criminal record that includes battery on a police officer and aggravated assault. He has yet to be charged in the incident. 

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