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28 Espanola officer's fatal shooting of teen justified
It took just twenty minutes for a grand jury to return a verdict Wednesday that the shooting of 16-year-old Victor Villalpando by an Espanola police officer June 8 was justified.
Wednesday, the district attorney released surveillance video of the moment police say Villalpando pulled a cap gun on them, and also released audio recordings from a surveillance camera of the 911 call that served as the impetus of the shooting.
"Yes, [I'm] over here at Lovin' Oven, and there's some crazy kid out here and I don't know what he's doing," the tape captures Villalpando telling dispatchers. Investigators say the "crazy kid" was actually Villalpando himself.
"It looks like he has a gun in his hand," he says. "He just said he wanted to die. But…I don't know."
Moments later, officers arrived at the scene and talked to Villalpando, which is when they say he reached behind him and pulled out what they say looked like a real gun.
"He just pulled it," District Attorney Angela "Spence" Pacheco told the courtroom Wednesday. "And as soon as they saw the gun…they're trained to fire. At that point in time, they had no idea it wasn't a real gun."
Pacheco showed the media photos of the gun at a news conference in Santa Fe Wednesday. It looked real, but turned out to be a toy cap gun.
But she also said Wednesday that Villalpando did pull a real knife on officers after he was shot.
"Is it suicide by cop?" Pacheco responded Wednesday to a question from KOB, "I'll let you make your own inferences from everything that has occurred."
Investigators said Villalpando called 911 on himself twice before the June 8 shooting, and friends testified he seemed upset about a girl and didn't want to live if he couldn't marry her.
"He text messaged a good friend of his on [June} 5th and said, 'watch the news, something big is going to happen. Watch for me on the news.'"
Pacheco said Wednesday the teen's family doesn't agree with the grand jury's decision.
"They feel that the police officers should have better training to deal with individuals who have mental health issues," she said.
Friends say Villalpando was a dancer who had been accepted to attend the New Mexico School for the Arts this fall.