A grandmother from New Mexico was shot dead by a Los Cruces police officer who fired upon her as she attempted to speed away in her car.
The killing of the 45-year-old grandmother has left her devastated family demanding answers.
Officer Felipe Hernandez, an eight year veteran with the force, was speaking with Teresa Gomez in the early hours of the morning on October 3rd, just before 5am.
Gomez had parked her car at a housing complex together with another man in the car identified as Julio Garcia.
Officer Hernandez recognized Garcia from previous encounters and knew that he was barred from being on the premises, accusing him of trespass and violating a judge’s order.
Grandmother Teresa Gomez, 45, was shot dead by a Los Cruces, New Mexico police officer after she sped away following an encounter with an officer
Bodycam video sees the officer using profanities and threats with the suggestion she may have been trespassing at the housing complex in the hours before dawn on October 3
Gomez explained that she was searching for her lost car keys and noted how she was looking for someone at housing complex
In nine minutes of bodycam footage, Gomez can be heard being addressed by the police officer as he tried to establish her reason for being at the housing complex.
Throughout the interaction the officer can be heard using aggressive language, including profanities, and threatens to ‘tase’ her and make her life ‘a living hell’ if she didn’t comply with his investigation.
Gomez explained that she was searching for her lost car keys and noted how she was looking for someone at the location.
The officer’s suspicions were aroused and questioned their presence outside the public housing complex, claiming her passenger was also not supposed to be there.
Gomez, who managed to keep cool throughout, protested saying she was unaware of any specific visitor rules.
Gomez was repeatedly asked to get out of her car to answer the officer’s questions which she did without incident.
In nine minutes of bodycam footage, Gomez can be heard being addressed by the police officer as he tried to establish her reason for being at the housing complex at just before dawn
Gomez managed to keep cool and protested saying she was unaware of any visitor rules
The 45-year-old grandmother attempted to explain how she had been searching for car keys
After eventually finding her car keys and receiving permission from the officer, Gomez then returned to the driver’s seat.
But just moments later, with her car door still open, she started the engine and backed out of her parking spot.
Officer Hernandez responds by shouting for her to stop several times before opening fire three times, striking Gomez at least once.
Gomez began bleeding from her neck and struggled to breathe. She was taken to a hospital but passed away as a result of her injuries.
A wrongful death lawsuit has now been filed by her family alleging excessive force in violation of her civil rights.
Gomez’s family are struggling to understand how the grandmother came to be killed during what had been a relatively straightforward encounter.
‘If you’ve seen the video, the beginning – with just how the officer was talking to my mom – … for any son, daughter, mother, father, like, it’s hard to see someone, a grown man, talk to your mom like that – and that wasn’t even the worst part,’ son, Johny Gomez, told CNN.
‘We didn’t understand at what point it went wrong because it didn’t seem like it could go wrong,’ Teresa Gomez’s sister, Angela Lozano-Gutierrez added.
‘From everything that happened, it seemed like it was kind of, like, getting to the part where they were just going to let her go. And so, it was just shocking that it ended with her dying.’
Suddenly, Gomez started her engine and shifted her car into reverse as she backed away
Gomez, was shot dead by the officer as she attempted to drive away
Officer Hernandez can be seen pointing his firearm into Gomez’s car after she sped away
The video of the police encounter and subsequent shooting was played during a news conference at Las Cruces City Hall
Las Cruces Police Department interim Chief Jeremy Story speaks during the news conference
‘The Las Cruces Police Department’s lack of internal oversight and supervision has allowed a culture of aggression to develop, promoting an acceptance of unlawful use of deadly force contributing to the preventable death of Teresa Gomez,’ the family’s attorney, Shannon Kennedy, said in a statement.
The Las Cruces Police Department has since revealed how Officer Hernandez, had been involved in several use-of-force incidents prior to this and is currently on paid administrative leave while investigations are ongoing.
‘It is certainly a matter of concern when there are controversial officer-involved shootings,’ Las Cruces Interim Police Chief Jeremy Story said in a statement.
‘We take a critical look at training, policy, and equipment after all critical incidents and look for areas of concern that need to be addressed. Any response must be based on objective measures and cannot influence the criminal investigation.’