Albuquerque SWAT, suicide victim exchanged gunfire
Posted at: 06/26/2012 8:29 AM
| Updated at: 06/26/2012 6:36 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4
A SWAT standoff that ended with a man committing suicide last week is now being investigated as an officer-involved shooting, Albuquerque Police Department's Public Information Officer Tasia Martinez said.
Tuesday, six days after the incident, police finally revealed they exchanged gunfire with the suspect.
KOB Eyewitness News 4, the only station who stayed and covered the nearly 15-hour standoff last week, asked police why those details were not released sooner.
"I don't feel like at any point we've ever withheld information from you or any media source, when it's been requested," Martinez said.
The Albuquerque Police Department operates under a policy of complete transparency, Martinez said.
Despite repeated questions at the scene last week as officers surrounded a home in southwest Albuquerque, officers never once mentioned an officer shot at Santiago Chavez, 20, who was barricaded inside.
"It wasn't an effort to completely omit this," Martinez said. "There was never a situation where anyone said, 'we're not to tell media we got into a shooting,' that was not at all how it took place. It's not in the back of the officer's mind that I need to tell media what just happened to me, I need to tell media I was just shot at."
Neighbors said they did not have to be told there was gunfire because they heard it.
"It's obvious it was a shotgun situation from both sides so we just need to know after the fact what ended up happening," Patricia Garcia-Zerrate said.
"It doesn't scare me not to know," Florence Garcia said. "I think it scares me more to know."
Martinez defended the officers' silence on the shooting, and added it could have compromised their communication with Chavez.
But even after officers found Chavez dead inside his home from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, they still did not reveal they had shot at him earlier in the day.
"That was still under investigation," Martinez said. I don't think we've ever withheld any information of us being involved in a shooting where someone was shot... had that been the outcome here this would have been a whole different situation."
Bader is not being placed on administrative leave since none of the shots he fired actually hit anyone, Martinez said.
Officer Bader was involved in a deadly shooting in November of 2007 and March of 2008, and has been with the department for about 13 years.