Written by Officer Dusty Francisco 06/24/2021
This update identifies the officers involved and additional details that led up to the shooting.
Espanola, NM – On Tuesday, June 8, 2021, the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau was contacted to investigate a police shooting involving the Espanola Police Department (EPD).
At approximately 9:30 p.m., EPD responded to a welfare check on a vehicle in the parking lot of the Ranchitos Park in Espanola, NM. Upon arrival, two EPD officers made contact with a male and female outside the vehicle. The male, later identified as Louis Nathan Leyba (38) of Espanola, NM, entered the vehicle and sat down in the driver’s seat. While EPD Officer Derrick Valdez attempted to speak to the female who was standing next to an open passenger side door, she got into the vehicle and sat down in the passenger seat when Lebya began to drive the vehicle backwards in reverse. Officer Valdez became stuck between the door and vehicle. He grabbed onto the door for his safety, but his feet began to drag on the pavement. Officer Valdez gave numerous verbal commands for Leyba to stop the vehicle. Leyba ignored the officer’s commands and continued to drive the vehicle in reverse dragging Officer Valdez. At that time, Officer Valdez drew his department issued firearm and discharged it at least once towards Leyba, striking him. During the same time, Officer Anthony Martinez also drew his department issued firearm and discharged it towards Leyba. After both officers discharged their firearms, the vehicle came to an abrupt stop which threw Officer Valdez onto the pavement.
Once the vehicle came to a stop, both EPD officers immediately rendered aid to Leyba until emergency medical personnel arrived on scene. Leyba was transported by ambulance to an area hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. He was pronounced deceased at the hospital. The female passenger in the vehicle sustained minor injuries. She was also transported by ambulance to an area hospital where she was treated and later released.
Officer Derrick Valdez has been employed with EPD for approximately 2 ½ years with 1 year of prior law enforcement experience with the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office. Officer Anthony Martinez has been employed with EPD for approximately 2 years and 5 months. No officers were injured in the incident. For information regarding the initial call and administrative inquiries regarding the EPD officers, please reach out to EPD. Upon completion of the State Police investigation this case will be forwarded to an assigned district attorney’s office for review.