New Mexico prosecutor refuses to indict cops after grand jury calls shooting ‘unjustified’
A New Mexico special prosecutor, brought in to handle a case where two police officers were accused of shooting at a stolen SUV as it was being driven away, has declined to indict the officers despite a grand jury calling the shooting unjustified, reports the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Roswell District Attorney Janetta Hicks said in a letter to the New Mexico State Police that she will not prosecute Officers John DeBaca and Stephen Fonte for the shooting of Roberto Mendez on Aug. 8, 2013.
Mendez was hit in the face by a bullet from officer DeBaca’s gun, with the bullet lodging in his jaw.
According to dash cam video, Mendez can be seen putting the stolen SUV into reverse, hitting the officer’s cruiser, before speeding away.
As the SUV pulls away, Fonte can be seen shooting at the car’s tires as DeBaca shoots at the driver.
Mendez and his passengers, including a 4-year-old child, were taken into custody in a parking lot a short distance away.
Police authorities stated that Mendez has a criminal history and was believed to be armed, but no weapon was found in the vehicle.
Hicks, who was appointed to handle the case by District Attorney Angela “Spence” Pacheco, dismissed the grand jury’s finding saying, “A reasonable person in the same circumstances would be in fear of death or great bodily harm to himself or others and might use deadly force.”
Mendez attorney Tom Clark said he was stunned by the decision not to take the two officers to trial, saying, “This means that the grand jury doesn’t mean anything. I would have liked to see justice out of the criminal justice system.”
According to Clark, he intends to file a civil suit against the city for his client.
First District Attorney Angela “Spence” Pacheco had asked Hicks to serve as a special prosecutor in the case after the local grand jury’s October finding.
Watch the Dashcam video below via KRQE: