Cop charged with murder of grandmother Teresa Gomez

A New Mexico police officer has been charged with murder after shocking bodycam video showed him fatally shooting a grandmother while she drove away from him during a traffic stop.

Las Cruces cop Felipe Hernandez turned himself in Tuesday and was charged with second-degree murder with a firearm enhancement in the Oct. 3 death of Teresa Gomez, 45, KFOX reported.

“There was no necessity for him to use deadly force,” Doña Ana County District Attorney Gerald Byers said of the officer who fired three shots.

“We looked at self-defense. There was no self-defense.”

The dead grandmother’s family has also filed a federal wrongful-death lawsuit against the city and police alleging excessive force and violation of her civil rights.

Hernandez stopped Gomez about 5 a.m. as she drove with a passenger, Jesus Garcia, 38, whom he then recognized as a frequent trespasser, KFOX said.

Police officer Felipe Hernandez has been charged with murder.

The previously released video showed the eight-year veteran shining his flashlight into the vehicle and noticing that the passenger had a paintball gun.

Hernandez questions Gomez, saying he believes she was trespassing — which she denies several times – and asking her to get out of her car.

She refuses to step out and tells him, “Don’t touch me,” as he reaches for her arm, but eventually complies after Hernandez threatens to shoot her with a Taser.

Gomez tells him she had been at a public housing complex after hours visiting a friend called Butterfly, but he again tells her she was trespassing.

At one point, he recognizes the passenger as Garcia.

Hernandez was seen firing off at least three rounds at Teresa Gomez, 45. LCPD

“Jesus Garcia,” Hernandez exclaims. “Holy f–k, you’re back on the f—ing property!”

The officer then tells Gomez that Garcia has a warrant for his arrest and is not allowed to be on the property. The exchange becomes heated as he uses profanity and threatens to tow the vehicle.

“You don’t listen,” he tells Gomez after she questions why he needs her name. “Because I’m doing a f—ing investigation. You’re just like Jesus Garcia. You want to argue all the time.”

He tells her that she needs to cooperate or he will “really, really make her life a living hell,” the video shows.

Doña Ana County District Attorney Gerald Byers said there was no justification for the deadly physical force. LCPD

As he writes down her information, he allows Gomez to get back into the car, but she immediately tries to drive off with the door open and he fires off least three rounds, yelling, “Stop! Stop!”

Gomez can be heard screaming as the car stops a few feet away. 

Garcia, who was later arrested on multiple warrants, had pending felony drug and burglary charges, according to the Las Cruces Sun News.

Hernandez had been on administrative leave as of Oct. 17 before his arrest on the murder charge. The Las Cruces Police Department had not publicly identified him previously.

Hernandez was charged with second-degree murder with a firearm enhancement. Las Cruces Police Department

“From the very beginning of Mr. Hernandez’s interaction with Ms. Gomez, the ability to manage protocol is non-existent,” said Byers, the district attorney. “His interactions with her, just on a human level, was exceptionally subpar and did not meet the standards that LCPD demands of its officers.”

He noted that Gomez could be seen backing up her car toward Hernandez, but said the cop was not in the “zone of danger” when he opened fired, KOB reported.

“Teresa Gomez was not a fleeing felon because she did not present a danger to Officer Hernandez or anyone else,” Byers said.

Hernandez had been involved in previous use-of-force incidents but had never killed anyone until the deadly encounter, according to the Las Cruces Sun News.

Gomez’s family has filed a federal wrongful-death lawsuit against the city and police alleging excessive force and violation of her civil rights.

“The Las Cruces Police Department’s lack of internal oversight and supervision has allowed a culture of aggression to develop, promoting an acceptance of unlawful use of deadly force contributing to the preventable death of Teresa Gomez,” the family’s attorney, Shannon Kennedy, recently told CNN.

Las Cruces Interim Police Chief Jeremy Story told the outlet in November that it “is certainly a matter of concern when there are controversial officer-involved shootings.

“We take a critical look at training, policy, and equipment after all critical incidents and look for areas of concern that need to be addressed. Any response must be based on objective measures and cannot influence the criminal investigation,” he said.

Gomez’s family has struggled to make sense of her death.

“If you’ve seen the video, the beginning – with just how the officer was talking to my mom … for any son, daughter, mother, father, like, it’s hard to see someone, a grown man, talk to your mom like that,” her eldest son, Johny Gomez, told CNN.

“We didn’t understand at what point it went wrong because it didn’t seem like it could go wrong,” her sister, Angela Lozano-Gutierrez, told the outlet. “From, like, everything that happened, it seemed like it was kind of, like, getting to the part where they were just going to let her go.

“And so, it was just shocking that it ended with her dying,” she added.

Written by SaleemBaloch

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