Search warrant identifies NM State Police officer involved in Friday's fatal shooting

Steve Garrison
The Daily Times

AZTEC — A search warrant affidavit filed in district court Tuesday identified the New Mexico State Police officer who fatally shot Myles Roughsurface Friday night as Sgt. James Rempe.

The affidavit contained information on events leading up to the incident and the circumstances of the shooting. Sgt. Chad Pierce of the New Mexico State Police said that his department will not be releasing more information until Friday.

Rempe was previously awarded the Medal of Valor in 2009 for actions taken during an incident in August 2008 in which one person was fatally shot and another critically injured, according to The Daily Times archive.

On Aug. 28, 2008, a drunken driver led Rempe on a 45-minute high-speed chase before crashing his truck on a remote part of the Navajo Nation near Upper Fruitland.

Rempe, unable to call for assistance because of a weak radio signal, attempted to take the three passengers into custody. A fight broke out and Rempe fired three shots at the unarmed men, killing Cordell Dobey and critically injuring Jerry Dobey. A third man, Alden Blackhat, was uninjured and taken into custody.

Rempe has been placed on paid administrative leave while state police officers investigate Friday's shooting.

The warrants, signed on Saturday, authorized law enforcement officers to search Roughsurface's home at 9 County Road 3267, two vacant lots on the road and a home at 15 County Road 3267.

According to the affidavit, Jacob Robinson and Taylor Harris flagged down two sheriff's deputies at 5:15 p.m. Friday and told them that they had been threatened by a man armed with a revolver.

Robinson told the deputies that he and Harris were dropping off his uncle, Jackie Johnson, at his home on Road 3267 when Roughsurface, 27, came up and pushed Johnson.

Robinson and Harris confronted Roughsurface, who in response pulled out a black revolver with a brown wooden handle, the affidavit states.

Robinson and Harris left the scene, but Johnson called his nephew a short while later and said the man was shooting at him, the affidavit states.

Johnson said that after Robinson and Harris left, Roughsurface fired a round at him and then screamed, "Why don't you come over here, I'll blow your head off."

Johnson said that there had been a long simmering dispute between his family and Roughsurface over Roughsurface's dogs, which he said ran loose in the neighborhood.

"I've had the dog catcher here and I've had the sheriff here," he said.

Johnson said that Roughsurface had threatened his family members with guns three or four times before Friday night. He said the most recent incident was in September, when Roughsurface pulled out a 9mm pistol and pointed it as his father.

Some of Roughsurface's friends said during a meeting on Tuesday night that Johnson had also pulled a gun on Roughsurface in the past and that it wasn't uncommon for Johnson to stand on his porch and shoot.

Roughsurface's stepfather, Charles Lee, said his son did not own any guns and that all of the guns in the house belonged to him.

While deputies spoke to Robinson and Harris they heard shots fired in the area of Road 3267 and called for backup, according to the affidavit.

Three sheriff's deputies and one state police officer, Rempe, responded to the scene to assist, according to the affidavit.

The six officers approached a residence and announced themselves as law enforcement, the affidavit states.

Rempe separated from the group armed with an AR-15 rifle and situated himself in an empty lot to provide cover for the other officers, according to the affidavit.

Rempe said he fired two shots at a silhouette of a person who he believed was pointing a weapon at the officers, but then heard a man scream at him that he missed, the affidavit states.

Rempe ran from his position to another empty lot and, still seeing a silhouette of an armed individual, fired twice more.

The man fell to the ground, according to the affidavit.

Officers kicked an unidentified weapon away from the body, later identified as Roughsurface, and called for medical assistance, the affidavit states.

Johnson said deputies told him the next day that a rifle was found next to Roughsurface's body and a .38 Special revolver was found in his pocket.

An officer also told Lee and Roughsurface's mother, Darlene Tso, that an unloaded .38 Special revolver was found in Roughsurface's pocket. Lee said he had left some guns where Roughsurface could get them because he thought Roughsurface might have to defend himself due to the feud.

He said a few months earlier two young men shot at their house and one of the bullets went through one of the dogs' houses in the front yard wounding a dog. He did not take the dog to the vet because the bullet had only gone through skin.

Lee said when police first investigated the incident a couple months ago, they did not find any evidence, but after the sheriff's office deputies had left, Lee found the blood on the dog house and bullets lodged into the walls of his house. He said he called back officers, who took pictures of the dog and the house.

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.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.