Albuquerque policeman's gun goes off, accidentally hits bystander

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 15, 2014 7:14 PM

By Joseph Kolb

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Reuters) - An Albuquerque police officer accidentally shot an innocent bystander when his weapon discharged as he climbed through a window during a burglary investigation, authorities said on Monday.

The incident follows a federal investigation that concluded the police department in New Mexico's biggest city used excessive, even deadly, force against passive civilians.

The officer was investigating a burglary and was trying to enter an apartment through a broken window when his gun fired on Sunday, Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Tanner Tixier said. The bullet pierced the floor and hit the resident in the apartment below.

The victim was wounded in the upper back and was taken to a local hospital where he is in stable condition, police said.

Tixier said the officer is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the probe into the shooting.

"We will not be releasing his name, lapel video, or any other items pertaining to this incident until he has had the opportunity to speak with investigators," the spokesman said.

On Oct. 31, Albuquerque and the U.S. Justice Department announced an agreement for the city's police department to undergo reform and be monitored for use of excessive force.

Under the new rules, officers are prohibited from firing at moving vehicles, required to wear body cameras to record their encounters, and limited in their use of electronic control weapons such as Tasers.

A Justice Department inquiry, prompted by public complaints, had previously found that a majority of the department's 20 fatal officer-involved-shootings between 2009 and 2012 were unconstitutional.

(Reporting by Joseph Kolb; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Mohammad Zargham)