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NM officer cleared in fatal shooting of armed man, video released

As the officer walked up to the rear of the vehicle, Ernesto Sedillo partially emerged from the backseat and pointed a handgun at the officer


By Carlos Andres López
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The 3rd Judicial District Attorney's Office has determined last month's fatal shooting of an armed suspect by a Las Cruces police officer was justified under New Mexico law.

The district attorney's decision was announced Tuesday by the Las Cruces Police Department, which also released the name of the officer who fatally 52-year-old Ernesto Sedillo on July 17.

“After an extensive review of this case," District Attorney Mark D’Antonio wrote Monday in a letter to LCPD, "we have concluded that the shooting by Officer Kenneth Davis was justified under New Mexico law."

Police said video of the incident captured by Davis' lapel camera played a "key" role in "exonerating" the officer.

 

District Attorney’s Office Clears Officer in July Shooting The investigation into the July 17 shooting death of an armed man on Arizona Avenue is complete and the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office has concluded that the Las Cruces Police officer’s actions were justified. “After an extensive review of this case we have concluded that the shooting by Officer Kenneth Davis was justified under New Mexico law,” said District Attorney Mark D’Antonio in a letter dated Aug. 14, 2017. The July 17 shooting resulted in the death of 52-year-old Ernesto S. Sedillo of Las Cruces who emerged from a vehicle pointing a handgun at officer Davis, a 4-year veteran of the Las Cruces Police Department. Before his LCPD career began, Davis was a deputy with the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office since 2009. Davis was wearing a lapel camera during the incident and video from it was key in exonerating the officer. Shortly before 11:30 a.m. Monday, July 17, Las Cruces Police were dispatched to the report of a suspicious person possibly armed with a knife on the 800 block of Delta Drive. Davis was the first officer to arrive and located Sedillo, who matched the description of the suspect, near a black Honda Accord that was parked along the 1800 block of Arizona Avenue. By the time Davis approached the vehicle, Sedillo was already in the back seat of the Honda. As Davis walked up to the rear of the Honda, Sedillo partially emerged from the vehicle and pointed a handgun at the officer who responded by firing multiple rounds at the suspect. The officer retreated to his patrol unit and called for backup, not knowing if the suspect was struck or still a threat. The investigation revealed that Davis fired eight rounds, four of which struck Sedillo. Investigators learned that Sedillo’s 9mm handgun had a loaded magazine but no round in the chamber. It’s not known if Sedillo pulled the trigger or attempted to fire at officer Davis. LCPD’s SWAT team was activated after the shooting because officers believed Sedillo might still be a threat and was possibly barricaded in the Honda. After about an hour, the combined Las Cruces Police-New Mexico State Police SWAT team located Sedillo deceased in the back seat of the Honda. No shots were fired by any members of the SWAT team. After the shooting, Davis was placed on administrative leave which is standard protocol for the Las Cruces Police Department. Davis returned to duty on July 24. Through the course of the investigation it was learned that Sedillo entered the backyard of a resident on the 800 block of Delta Drive. The resident confronted Sedillo who was armed with a knife. The resident subsequently called 911 to report the incident and prompting the initial response from the Las Cruces Police Department. Investigators recovered the 9mm handgun from Sedillo’s vehicle. The knife was located in a sheath Sedillo was wearing. The shooting was investigated by the Officer-Involved Incident Task Force which includes investigators from New Mexico State Police, LCPD, the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State University Police. The task force investigates all officer-involved shootings and reports its findings to the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Dikirim oleh Las Cruces Police Department pada 15 Agustus 2017

The incident began to unfold around 11 :30 a.m. July 17 when police had been dispatched to the report of suspicious person, possibly armed with a knife, in the 800 block of Delta Drive.

The investigation revealed that Sedillo had entered the backyard of a home in the 800 block of Delta Drive, according to police.

The resident of the home confronted Sedillo, who was reportedly armed with a knife. The resident subsequently called 911 to report the incident and prompting the initial response from LCPD.

Davis was the first officer to arrive on the scene and located Sedillo, who matched the description of the suspect, near a black Honda Accord that was parked along the 1800 block of Arizona Avenue, police said.

By the time Davis had approached the vehicle, police said, Sedillo was in the backseat.

As the officer walked up to the rear of the vehicle, Sedillo partially emerged from the backseat and pointed a handgun at the officer, who responded by firing multiple rounds at the suspect.

The investigation revealed that Davis fired eight rounds, four of which struck Sedillo.

After Davis fired his weapon, police said, he retreated to his patrol unit and called for backup, apparently not knowing if the suspect had been struck or was still a threat.

Police revealed Tuesday that Sedillo's 9-mm handgun had a loaded magazine but no round in the chamber. It’s not known if Sedillo pulled the trigger or attempted to fire at the officer.

The handgun was later recovered from Sedillo’s vehicle. The knife also was located in a sheath that Sedillo was wearing.

Following the shooting, LCPD dispatched its SWAT team to the scene, believing Sedillo still posed a threat and was possibly barricaded in the Honda.

After about an hour, the SWAT team located Sedillo deceased in the back seat of the Honda. No shots were fired by any members of the SWAT team.

Sedillo, who had a history of arrests since 2005, was pronounced dead at 12:57 p.m.

After the shooting, Davis was placed on administrative leave which is standard protocol for the Las Cruces Police Department. He returned to duty on July 24.

Davis is a four-year veteran of LCPD and also previously served as a deputy with the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office, police said.

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©2017 the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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