A New Mexico grandmother was shot and killed by a Los Cruces police officer who shot at her as she tried to run away in her car.
Teresa Gomez, 45, was killed by Officer Felipe Hernandez, an eight-year veteran of the force, in the early morning hours of October 3, just before 5 a.m.
The officer had spoken with Gomez who had parked her car at a housing complex with a friend, identified as Julio Garcia.
Hernandez recognized Garcia from previous encounters and appeared to be aware that he was being denied access to the property, accusing him of trespassing and violating a judge’s order.
Grandmother Teresa Gomez, 45, was shot and killed by a Los Cruces, New Mexico police officer after driving away from an encounter with an officer
Bodycam video shows the officer using profanities and threats, suggesting she may have entered the residential complex in the hours before dawn on October 3.
Gomez explained that she was looking for her lost car keys and noted how she was looking for someone in the housing complex
In nine minutes of bodycam footage, Gomez can be heard being confronted by the police officer as he tried to determine why she was in the residential complex.
Throughout the interaction, the officer may use aggressive language, including swear words, and threatens to “taste” her and make her life “hell” if she does not comply with his investigation.
Gomez explained that she was looking for her lost car keys and noted how she was looking for someone at the location.
The officer began to question their presence outside the public housing complex, claiming her passenger was not supposed to be there.
Gomez, who remained calm during the conversation, explained that she was not aware of any specific visitor rules.
The grandmother was asked to step 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 confronted by the police officer as he tried to determine why she was in the housing complex just before dawn.
Gomez managed to keep a cool head and protested, saying she wasn’t aware of the visitor rules
The 45-year-old grandmother tried to explain how she had searched for car keys
After eventually finding her car keys and receiving permission from the officer, Gomez returned to the driver’s seat.
But moments later, with the car door still open, she started the engine and backed out of her parking spot.
Hernandez responded by yelling for her to stop several times before opening fire three times, hitting Gomez at least once.
Gomez began bleeding from her neck and struggled to breathe. She was taken to a hospital, but died from her injuries.
A wrongful death lawsuit has now been filed by her family alleging excessive force violated her civil rights.
Gomez’s family is struggling to understand how she was killed during a relatively simple encounter.
“If you saw the video, the beginning – with how the officer talked to my mother – … for any son, daughter, mother, father, it’s hard to see someone, a grown man, talking to your mother like that – and that wasn’t even the worst of it,” said son Johny Gomez CNN.
“We didn’t understand at what point it went wrong because it didn’t seem like it could go wrong,” added Teresa Gomez’s sister, Angela Lozano-Gutierrez.
“From everything that happened, it seemed like it was kind of a point where they were just going to let her go. And so it was just shocking that it ended with her death.”
Suddenly, Gomez started her engine and put her car in reverse while backing up
Gomez was shot and killed by the officer as she tried to drive away
Officer Hernandez can be seen pointing his firearm at Gomez’s car after she drove away
Video of the police encounter and subsequent shooting was played during a news conference at Las Cruces City Hall
Jeremy Story, interim chief of the Las Cruces Police Department, speaks during the news conference
“The Las Cruces Police Department’s lack of internal oversight and supervision has created a culture of aggression that promotes the acceptance of unlawful use of deadly force that contributes to the preventable death of Teresa Gomez,” said the family’s attorney, Shannon Kennedy. in a statement.
The Las Cruces Police Department has since revealed how Officer Hernandez was previously involved in several violent incidents and is currently on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues.
“It is certainly a concern when there are controversial officer-involved shootings,” Interim Las Cruces Police Chief Jeremy Story said in a statement.
‘After critical incidents, we take a critical look at training, policy and equipment and look for points that need to be addressed. Any response must be based on objective measures and must not influence the criminal investigation.”