Written by Officer Ray Wilson 05/02/2022
On Friday, April 8, 2022, at the request of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau was contacted to take over as the primary investigating agency in an officer-involved-shooting investigation involving APD due to a conflict of interest. The shooting occurred on April 6, near the intersection of Spain and Eubank. The New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau was involved from the onset of the investigation as part of the Multi-Agency Task Force as the secondary investigating agency.
New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau agents learned that on April 6, at around 6:30 p.m., APD was dispatched to the Chateau Apartments located at 6101 Osuna Road N.E. for an armed carjacking. The victim reported a male forced him out of his green BMW at gunpoint and stole his vehicle. APD officers in marked patrol vehicles located the stolen BMW and suspect near Academy and McKinney, and a pursuit ensued.
During the pursuit, the suspect, who was later identified as John Withers, 20, of Albuquerque, drove erratically through traffic. Withers ran red traffic lights and drove on the wrong side of the road. Due to Withers’ dangerous driving, marked APD units decided to discontinue the pursuit. APD detectives, who were in unmarked units, continued to follow Withers in the stolen BMW.
Detectives saw Withers park the stolen BMW on Osuna, east of Wyoming. Detectives radioed their location to marked patrol units and then proceeded to follow Withers on foot down a dirt path and eventually into a nearby concrete arroyo. Detectives and uniformed officers caught up with Withers who was holding a handgun in his hand. Officers gave Withers commands to stop and drop the weapon.
Withers ran from officers and at one point stopped and turned towards the officers. Withers fired shots at officers, and a detective fired his duty weapon, striking Withers. Withers took off running again. Officers continued to pursue Withers on foot. He stopped a second time and turned towards officers and moved his hands towards officers like he was about to shoot again.
An APD uniformed officer, and a second detective, fired their duty rifles, striking Withers. Officers approached Withers, who was now laying on the ground. They started to provide medical care and called for an ambulance. Withers sustained fatal injuries in the shooting and was pronounced deceased on the scene by the Office of the Medical Investigator. For information on the APD officers involved duty status, and for the reason of the conflict of interest, please contact APD.
The New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau agents work to independently determine the series of events leading to the shooting, including collecting evidence and conducting interviews. Throughout the process, investigative findings are shared with the district attorney for their review and consideration.
The New Mexico State Police acts solely as factfinders in its cases and does not determine whether the actions of an officer were justified in these types of matters. That decision rests with the district attorney’s office. This incident remains under investigation by the New Mexico State Police.