By Chris Quintana
The Santa Fe New Mexican
SANTA FE, N.M. — A grand jury found that a state police officer was justified when he shot and killed a 39-year-old Santa Fe woman last November, First Judicial District Attorney Angela "Spence" Pacheco said Wednesday.
Pacheco said at a news conference that she presented a full day of testimony from multiple sources detailing the November pursuit and shooting of Jeanette Anaya. Within 50 minutes, the grand jury decided that Officer Oliver Wilson's life was in danger and that he had the right to shoot Anaya.
That conclusion was based on crash reconstruction and testimony from passenger Jeremy Muñoz and Wilson. Pacheco said the officer testified that he feared for his life and that he was "terrorized," by Anaya's actions.
Officers reported that Anaya drove erratically through Santa Fe neighborhoods at speeds up to 87 mph and refused to stop for state police. State police eventually forced her car to crash into a wall. As Wilson left his vehicle to talk to Anaya, police said she drove "aggressively and immediately" toward the officer. Oliver fired several shots, killing Anaya.
The Office of the Medical Investigator reports indicated that Anaya died from two gunshots wounds, one to the head and another to the back. Her 34-year-old passenger, Muñoz, was unharmed and is not facing charges.
Muñoz was in the vehicle, but Pacheco said he told the grand jury he was crouched down and didn't see much. He reportedly felt the vehicle back up, but he thought the officer was standing to the side of Anaya's vehicle, not behind it.
Pacheco said dash-cam video did not show Anaya steering her vehicle toward the officer. She also said the officer's vehicle at that time was positioned at an angle where neither he nor Anaya could be seen on the video.
Pacheco said investigators determined that Anaya collided with the car based on the fact that paint from Anaya's vehicle had rubbed onto the cruiser's front left bumper. She also said video shows a taillight shard flying off Anaya's vehicle as though she had hit something.
While no criminal charges will be brought against Wilson, civil claims still could be forthcoming.
Tom Clark, the attorney for Anaya's family, said they were saddened to learn Wilson wouldn't be facing charges, but he said he was not surprised at the jury's verdict.
"This is about who investigates who," Clark said. "How is it possibly OK for state police to investigate a state police shooting?"
He likened the state police investigation in this case to asking the family of a suspect in a homicide to determine if a crime was committed. Clark said he believes an independent investigation by an outside entity such as the FBI, the Attorney General's Office or the Department of Justice is warranted.
Pacheco also said that based on the evidence she considered, Anaya never committed a traffic violation prior to the pursuit. Clark said that fact calls into question why Wilson was following her, and, ultimately, the shooting.
Pacheco said Anaya told Muñoz she didn't want to stop for the officer because there was a warrant out for her arrest on identity concealment charges.
The district attorney said Wilson fired his gun 16 times at Anaya, though only two of those shots hit the woman. Crime scene photos revealed that the car's windows had been shattered. Another showed the driver's seat riddled with bullet holes and a splash of blood on the armrest. Pacheco said the pursuit maneuver used to stop Anaya occurred at speeds of 22 mph. Pacheco said that the officer knew Anaya had a passenger.
OMI records also indicate that Anaya ingested cocaine, an illegal stimulant that produces feelings of euphoria. It's unclear if the influence of the drug caused her to flee from police. Mark Donatelli, the attorney representing Muñoz, said his client had not used cocaine.
The Anaya death came on the heels of several state police officer-involved shootings since October.
Copyright 2014 The Santa Fe New Mexican
McClatchy-Tribune News Service