FARMINGTON — Farmington police said the officer who shot and killed a suspect on Tuesday has been involved in three shootings in the past six years.
Farmington police Sgt. Shawn Scott shot Mark Chavez, a 49-year-old Farmington man, at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Farmington police Lt. Taft Tracy said in a news release. The man allegedly was charging Scott and threatening him with a weapon when he was shot.
Tracy said Chavez had called police and lured them to a residence at 912 Loma Linda Ave. in Farmington, saying he had killed a woman. Police have yet to find any evidence of that claim.
Scott was the first officer on scene. Chavez was holding what law-enforcement officials described as “a blunt-impact weapon” and refused to put it down.
New Mexico State Police Lt. Tim Johnson said the agency won't elaborate on Chavez's weapon until its investigation is complete.
Scott originally tried to stop Chavez with a Taser but it was ineffective, Tracy said.
Footage from Scott's patrol car shows that Chavez aggressively approached Scott with the weapon before Scott shot him in the leg and torso, Tracy said.
Chavez was transported to San Juan Regional Medical Center where he died.
Chavez may have had family who were living in the home where the shooting took place, but police don't believe Chavez lived there, Tracy said.
Johnson said police have several interviews scheduled in coming days “to figure out what (Chavez's) day consisted of.”
Scott has been placed on paid administrative leave while state police investigate the shooting. And Farmington police will internally review the shooting, Tracy said.
It was the third time in Scott's career he was involved in a shooting, Tracy said. In June 2006, Scott shot and killed Clint John, a 21-year-old Kirtland man, in the Walmart parking lot on East Main Street.
The shooting of John, a Navajo, raised questions about racism in the city of Farmington. The Navajo Nation got involved by financially funding lawsuits against the city and Scott, and Navajo leaders organized rallies in Farmington to protest John's death.
A police investigation revealed the shooting was justified.
John was involved in a physical fight with his girlfriend in front of the couple's young child and police were called to the scene. Scott was the first to arrive.
John had grabbed Scott's baton and was charging at the officer when he was shot four times.
John's family filed a lawsuit against Scott and the city of Farmington seeking damages for the death. Scott was exonerated by a federal court jury. Charges against the city were dismissed.
In 2009, Scott shot a suspect in the hand. The suspect was taken into custody, Tracy said.
All of Scott's shootings have been investigated by Farmington police and an outside agency. The shootings have all been ruled justified, Tracy said.
Scott has been with the Farmington Police Department since 1996. Prior to that he was an officer for Aztec police, giving him a total of nearly 20 years of local law-enforcement experience, Tracy said.
Farmington police's use-of-force policies allow officers to use a level of force similar to the force being directed at the officers. The policy allows officers to increase force if the suspect cannot be contained.
On Tuesday, Scott originally tried to use a Taser and increased force because the Taser wasn't effective, Tracy said.
Chavez had no felony convictions in San Juan County. Tracy said Chavez's family didn't have much of an explanation for his behavior, other then that he struggled with alcoholism.
It was Farmington police's first officer-involved shooting since December 2010, when an armed bank robbery suspect pointed a gun at police officers and was shot and killed.