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Video: Embattled NM cop under fire for OIS

Officer Brian Pitzer is being criticized for his record of officer-involved shootings; the suspect in this case had a gun and had robbed an elderly woman

By PoliceOne Staff

ALBUQUERQUE — Newly released body cam footage shows an officer-involved shooting between an Albuquerque cop and a suspect accused of robbing an elderly woman and her grandson, pulling a gun on a bystander and demanding a ride, and running drivers off the road with his vehicle.

Police were searching for Joaquin Ortega on October 28 after he reportedly crashed his Honda Civic into a street light then robbed a 76-year-old woman, according to KRQE.

Officer Brian Pitzer spotted Ortega on foot and shouted for him to show his hands.

Ortega took off, allegedly tossing his gun as he ran toward a car repair shop. After repeating the order to show his hands several times, Pitzer opened fire, shooting at the suspect.

Witnesses originally told police that the officer fired after Ortego threatened him with his gun — which is not evident in the video.

Now Pitzer is coming under fire because the incident was his third shooting in six and a-half years with the department, according to the Sacramento Bee. The department is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice, in part for alleged misuse of force; the investigation was launched more than a year ago.

Interim Chief Allen Banks backed Pitzer’s actions, saying, “The officer perceived a threat to himself and perceived a threat to the community, so he took the actions that he felt necessary at the time.”

Ortega was booked on charges of aggravated assault on a police officer and armed robbery, among other charges.

According to KRQE, Ortega’s girlfriend told police that he had been snorting Xanax and drinking just before his crime spree began. 

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