Farmington police chief: Officers' actions during May 10 shooting were within policy
Suspect allegedly fired more than two dozen rounds from handgun
FARMINGTON — The Farmington police chief has announced the four officers who shot at an armed man in early May acted within department policy and training.
The announcement was shared in a nearly 10-minute, internally produced video the agency posted about the May 10 incident to its Facebook page on June 9.
The video provides viewers with a description of events for May 10 when officers fired their handguns at Brian Benally, 29, after the defendant allegedly pointed a handgun at an officer in the 100 block of West Animas Street in downtown Farmington.
Benally was shot multiple times, but law enforcement officials have not released how many rounds struck the defendant or which officers were responsible for shooting him.
Chief Steve Hebbe spoke during the video, along with Capt. Kyle Dowdy.
Farmington Police Department policy for officer-involved shootings
Hebbe said the Farmington police internal review of the incident has been completed and that it determined the officers' actions during the incident were within training and policy.
Benally is accused of firing a handgun multiple times May 10 while walking around the downtown Farmington area, which led to several 911 calls from citizens stating they heard gunshots.
Hebbe added he believed the officers’ actions were appropriate for the incident.
Hebbe noted the officers were able to work diligently to locate Benally before citizens were injured.
“Officers did not know what the man had been shooting at as he roamed the downtown area, but the potential for someone to be targeted was very real,” Hebbe said.
The police chief also stated the officers’ quick transition to life-saving measures probably saved Benally’s life after he was shot.
“Whatever happened seconds before, they rapidly transitioned, and I’m very proud of this response,” Hebbe said.
Benally was still recovering June 9 at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque from his injuries.
Officers Miles Mead, Stephen Frazier, Nathan McPherson and Zachary Goar were identified as the men who shot at Benally.
They remain on administrative leave as the San Juan County Regional Officer Involved Shooting Task Force investigates the incident.
Farmington police video, photos, 911 calls released
The video released by Farmington police uses the 911 audio from calls to dispatch, photos taken of evidence, video surveillance footage and police body/patrol camera footage.
The narrative shared in the video largely mirrors the details in the court documents that were filed on May 17, when Benally was accused of criminal charges from the May 10 incident.
He was charged with a third-degree felony count of aggravated assault on a peace officer, a fourth-degree felony count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and five petty misdemeanor counts of negligent use of a deadly weapon.
Benally allegedly fired more than two dozen rounds from a black handgun on the afternoon of May 10.
A total of 25 spent shell casings were located during the investigation.
Benally is seen in several videos walking around the area of downtown Farmington, including West Main Street and West Broadway Avenue, wearing a black backpack.
One phone call from an employee of the Domino's pizza restaurant at 725 W. Main St. is played in which the employee says he found spent shell casings near the business’s trash receptacle.
Benally is allegedly shown in the video footage near the trash receptacle as a photo taken by investigators of the spent shell casings is shown.
The defendant also is allegedly shown walking in the alley behind the Farmington Heating & Metal Co. at 703 W. Broadway Ave.
The video produced by police also includes a second man in some of the video surveillance footage. He is also mentioned in the 911 calls.
The unidentified man is still under investigation, according to Farmington Police Department spokesperson Nicole Brown.
The police body camera footage shows officers arriving at 101 W. Animas St. as Benally allegedly points a handgun at one of the officers.
The video briefly pauses as a red circle is drawn around Benally as he points an object at officers.
The video then shows him being shot by police in footage from a police body camera.
At that point, Benally’s body is pixelated in the video to avoid showing his injuries as officers attend to his gunshot wounds.
Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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