Albuquerque, New Mexico, police are investigating the death of an armed man by city cops, officials said Wednesday — the latest shooting in a string of incidents for a department bogged by complaints of excessive force.
Officers were responding to a call at about 4:45 p.m. local time Tuesday about "suspicious" activity on a busy residential street, police spokeswoman Celina Espinoza told NBC News. As one suspect was apprehended, a second one gave chase by foot.
In the midst of a pursuit, Espinoza said, the suspect shot at officers and one of them returned fire, striking him. None of the officers were harmed, Deputy Chief Robert Hunstman told reporters Tuesday night.
Few other details were released, but Espinoza said the mortally wounded suspect was wearing a bullet-proof vest and a gun was retrieved near his body. His name was not released Wednesday afternoon. Espinoza wouldn't say whether department officials believe the officers followed appropriate protocol because the probe is ongoing.
Neighborhood residents said they heard a volley of shots during the gun battle. Patrick Dowless captured cellphone video of the aftermath, and told NBC affiliate KOB that he saw what he believed to be the suspect's body lying in an alley.
"He couldn't have been alive longer than two or three seconds after they shot him," Dowless said.
Another resident, Jordan Babnick, said he heard six shots fired between "distinctly two separate guns."
The shooting comes during a tense time between residents and the police force. On Monday, Bernalillo County prosecutors said they are charging two Albuquerque cops with murder for their involvement in the controversial shooting of a homeless camper last March. A month after that incident, a Justice Department report found that the department too frequently used deadly force on people who posed "a minimal threat."
The city's police have been involved in more than 40 police shootings since 2010, and this week's incident is the third one this year — although the first fatal incident. Last week, an officer critically wounded another cop during an undercover drug bust, police said.
The city and the U.S. Justice Department, meanwhile, are working to finalize an agreement to overhaul the Albuquerque Police Department following the harsh federal report. The agreement now is before a federal judge, and both sides are working to approve a monitoring team.
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— Erik Ortiz and Shamar Walters
The Associated Press contributed to this report.