Family of Bloomfield man shot by police claims shooting was unprovoked

Steve Garrison
The Daily Times

BLOOMFIELD — The family of a man fatally shot by Bloomfield police said on Thursday that the officers rushed onto the property without knocking on the door and did not immediately provide medical assistance to the wounded man, who was unarmed.

Police said they were responding to a domestic dispute call on Wednesday morning and were confronted by a man with a deadly weapon. John J. Rogers, of Bloomfield, was pronounced dead late Wednesday morning in the San Juan Regional Medical Center emergency room. A police spokesman said the officers were not injured.

New Mexico State Police officials are tasked with investigating the officer-involved shooting.

"We are not commenting on what the family is saying," said state police Lt. Emmanuel Gutierrez. "We don't do that. We comment on our investigation, and that is it."

Gutierrez said Thursday morning that no new information was available regarding the investigation. In a press release, Gutierrez said more information will be provided once the involved officers have been interviewed.

Bloomfield Police Chief Randy Foster confirmed Thursday that two Bloomfield police officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Foster said he could not comment on the state police department's investigation, but he added that he brought in an outside agency to provide a thorough, unbiased investigation "that people can be confident in."

Rogers' family — comprised of 18 grandchildren, four children, one sister, three brothers, many nieces and nephews and his wife of 40 years — is angry about the shooting.

Billie Rogers, John Rogers' wife, denies she called police about a domestic disturbance at the household, located at 414 Ruth Lane. The family also denies John Rogers was armed.

Abe Rogers, John Rogers' brother, said that a family member had called a friend during a "squabble" at the house Wednesday morning. He said he believes that friend called the Bloomfield Police Department.

"I was in the house cleaning, and my husband was in the garage working on his motorcycle," Billie Rogers said. "I saw a cop car pull up on the side, and I saw another one. They were heading everywhere. I heard a boom, and I heard another boom."

The family said the officers did not provide medical assistance to the 61-year-old Native-American man after he was shot.

"There are still some good police officers, but there are a lot that are corrupt," daughter Dana Davila said. "It's a sign of the times — police brutality has gone viral."

A makeshift memorial sits outside the family's home and the family held a candlelight vigil Thursday evening.

The vigil was preceded by a barbecue, where friends and family of John Rogers gathered together for food and comfort. Rebecca Medina, John Rogers' daughter, said it was a proper memorial for a man who spent so many hours on the road.

"He would get off the road and he would call everyone up and say, 'let's have a barbecue,'" she said.

John Rogers' son, Jonathan Rogers Jr., showed family and friends a bullet hole in his father's truck. He said it was an errant shot fired by one of the officers.

"They said there was a struggle, and the officer pulled out his gun and shot him in the head," Rogers said. "While he was still gurgling, they put their cold, steel boots to his neck."

Rogers said that the information was provided to him by detectives from the New Mexico State Police Department and his mother. He said one officer shot his father in the head and the other officer, still near his squad car at the end of the driveway, fired a round from his shotgun.

Rogers said his father kept a pistol in his pickup truck, "as is his right under the Second Amendment." He said his father did not have the firearm in his hand when he was killed.

Reciting the words like a prayer, Rogers said: "We will get convictions, 100 percent, in the name of Jesus Christ."

Dana Davila, John Roger's daughter, during the candlelight vigil compared the incident to the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

"Let's get justice for J.J.," she said. "Ya'll, let's get justice for J.J."

Abe Rogers said he and his brother arrived in San Juan County from Dovecreek, Colo., in the 1970s. He said they worked for Halliburton for several years before becoming truck drivers.

"We got into this business and we fell in love with it."

Jonathan Rogers Jr. described his father as a "God-fearing, tax-paying man" who dearly loved his family, particularly his "grandbabies." Family members said he was a workaholic, supporting his family through countless hours of truck driving for his business, 2JZ Trucking Transportation Inc.

"He was in the trucking business for 30 years," Billie Rogers said. "He bought his own truck, and he paid it off, finally. That showed how hard he worked. He paid it off in four years. He had a million miles on it."

Billie Rogers said the truck was paid off about two weeks ago — they were supposed to take a vacation to celebrate.

"Now, only I can take a vacation," she said, in tears.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.