- Grandmother Teresa Gomez, 45, was shot dead by a Los Cruces, New Mexico police officer after she sped away following an encounter with an officer
- Bodycam video sees the officer using profanities and threats with the suggestion she may have been trespassing at the housing complex before dawn
- Gomez, was shot by the officer as she attempted to drive away with the family now demanding answers about police conduct and the use of deadly force
A grandmother from New Mexico was shot dead by a Los Cruces police officer who fired upon her as she attempted to speed away in her car.
Teresa Gomez, 45, was killed by officer Felipe Hernandez, an eight year veteran with the force in the early hours of the morning on October 3rd, just before 5am.
The cop had been speaking 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 barred from being on the premises, accusing him of trespass and violating a judge’s order.
In nine minutes of bodycam footage, Gomez can be heard being addressed by the police officer as he tried to establish her reason for being at the housing complex.
Throughout the interaction the officer can be heard using aggressive language, including profanities, and threatens to ‘tase’ her and make her life ‘a living hell’ if she didn’t comply with his investigation.
Gomez explained that she was searching 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 throughout the exchange, explained she was unaware of any specific visitor rules.
The grandmother was asked to get out of her car to answer the officer’s questions which she did without incident.
After eventually finding her car keys and receiving permission from the officer, Gomez then returned to the driver’s seat.
But just moments later, with her car door still open, she started the engine and backed out of her parking spot.
Hernandez responded by shouting for her to stop several times before opening fire three times, striking Gomez at least once.
Gomez began bleeding from her neck and struggled to breathe. She was taken to a hospital but passed away as a result of her injuries.
A wrongful death lawsuit has now been filed by her family alleging excessive force in violation of her civil rights.
Gomez’s family are struggling to understand how she came to be killed during what had been a relatively straightforward encounter.
‘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 – and that wasn’t even the worst part,’ 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,’ Teresa Gomez’s sister, Angela Lozano-Gutierrez added.
‘From 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.’
‘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, said in a statement.
The Las Cruces Police Department has since revealed how Officer Hernandez, had been involved in several use-of-force incidents prior to this and is currently on paid administrative leave while investigations are ongoing.
‘It is certainly a matter of concern when there are controversial officer-involved shootings,’ Las Cruces Interim Police Chief Jeremy Story said in a statement.
‘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.’