By Nicole Perez
BERNALILLO COUNTY, N.M. — The man who was fatally shot by a Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office deputy had tried to run over his girlfriend and had rammed the deputy twice before getting out of the truck with his hands in the air, the sheriff's office said.
According to a slideshow from BCSO, which the agency released August 6th instead of holding a scheduled news conference, the suspect was 28-year-old Manuel Flores, who has a criminal history that includes previous charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, reckless driving and battery on a household member.
The deputy was identified as Sam Rodriguez, of the field services division, who has been with the office for almost three years.
Deputies say Flores had been dating a 45-year-old woman for two years, and she let him take her red pickup truck to try to sell it. On August 4th, Flores called his girlfriend to tell her he couldn't sell it, and they decided to meet at Coors and Gun Club so he could return her truck.
While on the phone, he became angry because he thought he heard a man's voice in the background and accused the woman of cheating.
She took her daughter with her to pick up the truck, and when Flores got there he started arguing with the girlfriend. She went inside a nearby gas station for help, but Flores followed her and started hitting her in the head, pulling her out of the gas station and into the pickup truck, according to BCSO.
The woman managed to escape and fled with her daughter, which is when deputies were called for a possible kidnapping or abduction. The woman and daughter fled north on Coors, and when they tried to make a U-turn, Flores intentionally rammed the car they were in — a silver sedan.
The woman jumped out and started running away to try to protect her daughter from Flores, but he rammed the sedan again and tried to run over the fleeing girlfriend.
"Surveillance video shows (the girlfriend) narrowly avoiding being killed by Flores," reads the BCSO release.
Flores then rammed the car deputy Rodriguez was driving. Rodriguez tried to open his driver door but couldn't. Flores drove south, made another U-turn, and rammed the deputy again, before getting out of the pickup truck with his hands in the air.
Cellphone video from a bystander shows Flores was shot within a second of getting out of the truck with his hands up. BCSO says the man started walking toward the deputy.
The deputy was trapped in the car and "fearing for his life," fired two shots, one of which hit and killed Flores, according to BCSO.
Flores was carrying no weapons when he was shot, according to BCSO.
BCSO's release states that the man had his hands up as if he were "celebrating." But spokesman Aaron Williamson said in a phone interview later that characterization was one investigator's opinion and wasn't supposed to be released. He said the office doesn't know why the man had his hands up or exactly what he was doing.
The deputy couldn't get out of his car after the shooting, so two bystanders pulled him out of his car's passenger side. He cuffed Flores, then tried to give him medical help.
Flores was rushed to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Copyright 2014 the Albuquerque Journal
McClatchy-Tribune News Service