ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — Following months without an officer-involved shooting, Albuquerque police has seen five officer-involved shootings in the last six weeks as the department continues to face a federal investigation over allegations of excessive force.
The latest shooting came Sunday after Andy Jack Snider, 37, was shot by police near the University of New Mexico. Authorities said Snider charged officers with a weapon in an alley after he fled from the scene of an alleged assault at a convenient store.
Police had not said what type of weapon — if any — had been recovered at the scene, and officials have not released the names of the officers involved in the shooting.
Court records showed that Snider had pleaded guilty last month to residential burglary.
The shooting marked the eighth officer-involved shooting in 2013. That's around the city's yearly average, according to police officials.
But Albuquerque has seen nearly three dozen officer-involved shootings since 2010 and the U.S. Department of Justice has been involved in a year-long probe into the Albuquerque Police Department.
In an interview with the Albuquerque Journal, Interim Police Chief Allen Banks blamed the jump in recent officer-involved shootings on the criminal justice system for allowing dangerous suspects to roam Albuquerque streets and putting officers in positions where they have no choice but to shoot.
"Each case is going to be different," Banks told the newspaper. "I look at the subjects who have attacked or put officers in these predicaments. I look at these subjects and say, 'Why are these people out in the streets? Has the system failed our community somewhere?' "
Most of the recent suspects shot by police this year had prior criminal history, records showed.
In March, for example, Kendall Carroll, 22, was shot and killed by state police at an Albuquerque apartment complex in a shooting that also involved an Albuquerque police officer. A .45-caliber pistol found on Carroll was later linked to a shooting of Albuquerque officer Ignas Danius earlier that same month.
In October, Joaquin Ortega, 32, was shot by an Albuquerque officer after police say he crashed his car into a light pole and robbed a woman and her grandson at gunpoint.
Darren White, the former Albuquerque director of public safety, said he agreed with Banks that the state's criminal justice was largely responsible for the recent shootings. "New Mexico does a miserable job at controlling its career criminal population," White said. "These are who officers are encountering in our streets."
Andrew J. Scott, a former police chief in Boca Raton, Florida, and president of AJS Consulting, a group that offers law enforcement agencies training, said just because Albuquerque police have seen a recent uptick in officer-involved shootings doesn't mean there's a problem with the agency. "But with the Department of Justice knocking on the door, it doesn't bode well with the public," Scott said.
Scott said the department needs to remain completely transparent while not compromising any investigations into the shootings. "Any stonewalling adds a lot of questions in the minds of the public," he said.
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