ACLU, expert weigh in on deadly APD shooting

ACLU, expert weighs in on shooting investigation

Tuesday's shooting marked the first time in nearly two years that Albuquerque police officers shot and killed an unarmed suspect.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Tuesday’s shooting marked the first time in nearly two years that Albuquerque police officers shot and killed an unarmed suspect.

It happened Tuesday afternoon in a neighborhood near Eubank and Candelaria.

APD leaders say officers found a stolen car, and before they could approach the two people inside, they drove into a neighborhood.

Police say 32-year-old Mariah Voight quickly ran from the vehicle, but officers arrested a man still inside.

After nearly two hours of searching the area, officers reportedly found Voight hiding in a backyard shed.

APD Chief Harold Medina says officers were yelling commands to her when she finally came out.

“The individual appeared from inside the shed, and had a very deliberate motion towards the officers in a punching out motion as if they had a firearm. At least one officer discharged their firearm,” said Medina. 

Voight was hit and later died at the hospital. Medina revealed she did not have a gun, but was holding a cell phone.

Medina says a police drone captured a different angle of the scene, clearly showing that phone. However, Medina said she held it in a very specific way.

“The drone footage, which clearly shows the individual inside, when it appears trying to position the phone in their hand as if it was a firearm, and then peering out and immediately punching that both arms forward towards the officers,” Medina said. 

It’s rare APD leaders reveal this much information about a police shooting right away.

Medina confirmed Tuesday night they still have to interview the officers involved, and said it’s still too early to make any assumptions about Voight’s state of mind.

KOB 4 learned she does have a lengthy criminal history, mostly in other parts of New Mexico, including several drug-related offenses.


Regardless, advocates with the ACLU of New Mexico are demanding a thorough investigation, especially considering how this incident started.

“The accusation is that there was a possible stolen car, and for that to escalate to the point where someone lost their life, that’s very concerning to us,” said Daniel Williams, a policing policy advocate with ACLU of New Mexico. 

ACLU officials compared Tuesday’s shooting to another deadly incident back in 2022. An APD officer shot and killed Collin Neztsosie after multiple witnesses reported seeing him point a gun at drivers along Central.

It was later revealed Neztsosie was actually holding a cell phone – just like this latest incident.

ACLU officials believe it’s more evidence APD needs to work on de-escalation strategies.

“We hope that APD and all law enforcement real estate can really learn from this and really take a closer look at the way that they engage in de-escalation, and the way that they respond to nonviolent offenses. Because this, something’s really went wrong here, and we hope that whatever went wrong here can be a lesson that is learned,” said Williams. 

Medina confirmed the officer who reportedly shot Voight is on administrative leave, which is standard after all police shootings.


KOB 4 asked an expert about the shooting, and he says it’s always a balancing act, determining what to release and when.

“We have not seen, presumably, what the chief has seen. It has been my experience, that I do not, I like to be very careful on what we provide to the public because too often we provide things that we believe, or we have been told, and yet, in time, that may change,” said Jerry Rodriguez. 

Rodriguez has 35+ years of experience with LAPD, Baltimore PD, and San Francisco’s DA office. Now, he’s an educator and consultant. It’s also important to note that Rodriguez did apply for the APD chief position about seven years ago, before Medina’s time. They also applied for a different chief position many years ago on the West Coast.

Medina has said we will eventually see two angles of what happened, one from the officers’ point of view and the other from a drone. But one question is where does it go first?

“What we don’t know and what we need to know is where that feed was going to. It’s a real-time feed of what the drone is seeing.  But it’s not necessarily the practice that the frontline officers conducting the search are getting this feed,” said Rodriguez. “The drone is a good tool, and it’ll provide you real-time video.  But that is only as good as you are able to disseminate that information.” 

There are still a lot of questions about what happened. It’s still early, and we will learn answers in due time, but big questions remain. 

“And in this case, we need to look at the backyard. Was there cover? Were the officers behind cover? Did they have the time and the luxury to be able to look at those extra seconds it would take to discern what that was,” said Rodriguez. 

Medina said Tuesday night he knows from personal experience how quickly decisions have to be made. Which is an apparent reference to his car crash in which he ran a red light to avoid gunfire.