Tatum, NM – On June 20, 2022, the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau was called to investigate an Officer-Involved Shooting involving a New Mexico State Police officer near Tatum, NM.
Agents learned at approximately 4:30 p.m., the Roswell Police Department (RPD) responded to an armed robbery and carjacking at the Allsup’s gas station in Roswell, NM. As RPD arrived on the scene, the victim told officers the suspect, later identified as Joel Contreras (27) of Roswell, NM, pointed a gun at him and took his GMC Denali pickup truck. The victim was able to track his vehicle and gave the location of the vehicle to the officers. As law enforcement officers searched the area, a Chaves County Sheriff’s deputy located the vehicle near Peach and Orchard Street. The deputy attempted to initiate a traffic stop. The suspect fled and a pursuit ensued.
During the pursuit, an RPD officer in the area assisted in the pursuit. Contreras came to a stop for a moment, but then sped off, and the pursuit continued through the city of Roswell and east onto U.S. Highway 380.
At around 5:06 p.m., the New Mexico State Police (NMSP) and the Lea County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) were notified and requested to assist. As Contreras continued to flee east on U.S. Highway 380, a LCSO deputy deployed tire deflation devices near milepost 218 to bring the vehicle to a safe stop. After Contreras drove over the tire deflating devices, he continued to travel east on U.S. Highway 380.
Near milepost 222, two New Mexico State Police officers parked off the roadway and exited their police vehicles. For reasons still under investigation, when Contreras approached the two NMSP officers, one of the officers, an NMSP supervisor, discharged his department-issued rifle toward the vehicle at least once, striking it. Contreras continued to travel east on U.S. Highway 380. The pursuit came to an end after Contreras crashed and rolled the GMC onto its side near East Broadway and South Cobern Avenue in Tatum, NM.
After the crash, Contreras was taken into custody without further incident by RPD. Officers learned that a 23-year-old female passenger was also in the vehicle during the pursuit and crash.
No officers were injured during the incident. Joel Contreras was booked into the Chaves County Detention Center after being treated and released at an area hospital. The female passenger was detained and later released. For information regarding the carjacking incident and criminal charges for Joel Contreras, please contact the Roswell Police Department.
The identity of the State Police supervisor who fired his weapon will not be released until the interviews are complete. The State Police supervisor has been placed on standard administrative leave.
The New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau agents are working to independently determine the series of events leading to the shooting, including collecting evidence and conducting interviews. Throughout the process, investigative findings will be shared with the district attorney for their review and consideration. The New Mexico State Police acts solely as factfinders in its cases and does not determine whether the actions of an officer were justified in these types of matters. That decision rests with the district attorney’s office.
Press release courtesy NMSP Officer Dusty Francisco.
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