For Immediate Release
March 29, 2023
Espanola, NM – On March 28, 2023, the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau was asked to investigate an officer-involved shooting in Espanola involving the Espanola Police Department (EPD).
State Police agents learned that just before 7:00 p.m., EPD officers received a report of a Ford F-150 parked in the road, blocking traffic at 322 North Riverside Drive, in front of Century Bank.
Officers arrived to find the F-150 facing north in the southbound lanes, blocking traffic. The sole occupant, Hilario Baca, 56, of Velarde, was in the driver’s seat armed with a rifle. As EPD officers approached the vehicle, Baca raised the rifle and pointed it at an EPD officer. The officers commanded Baca to drop the weapon, but he continued to raise it toward the officer.
At this point in the encounter, an EPD officer discharged his duty weapon at least once, striking Baca. After the shooting, Baca followed commands to get out of his vehicle, and the rifle dropped to the ground.
Officers rendered medical aid to Baca until paramedics arrived. Baca was transported to a local hospital, where he was later airlifted to a hospital in Albuquerque. His current condition is unknown. As a result of this incident, Baca faces charges from EPD upon release from the hospital. For details on those charges, please contact EPD.
The EPD officers involved were not injured and will not be identified by the New Mexico State Police. For information on their duty status or administrative actions taken, please contact the Espanola Police Department.
The New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau works independently to determine the series of events that led up to the shooting, including collecting evidence and conducting interviews. Throughout the process, investigative findings will be shared with the appropriate district attorney for their review and consideration.
The New Mexico State Police act solely as fact-finders in their cases and do 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.