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DA's Office rules officer-involved shooting lawful, necessary
Investigation by District Attorney's Office ended last week
FARMINGTON — The Aug. 27 officer-involved shooting of William Wilson by a San Juan County Sheriff's Office deputy and a New Mexico State Police officer has been ruled lawful and necessary by the San Juan County District Attorney's Office.
William Wilson, 26, was killed by gunshots fired by officers around 9:30 a.m. during a traffic stop at the Citizens Bank branch at 4220 Hudson St. in Farmington.
The final report written by Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien of the San Juan County District Attorney's Office on the investigation stated Deputy Sara Howard fired four rounds and Officer Dwayne Simpson fired seven rounds.
State police received the report on June 21, which concluded the investigation by the DA's Office, according to O'Brien.
The last of the reports in the investigation was provided to the DA's Office on April 30.
"If they didn't react the way they did, it could have been fatal for one or both of them," O'Brien said.
The report stated the actions of Simpson and Howard likely prevented either officer from being more seriously injured or killed by Wilson. It also states the use of force was not only within the law but necessary.
Capt. Brice Current of the Sheriff's Office said it was a sad and tragic event.
"Every person involved has a family member that loves them, that needs to be taken into consideration when handling these tragic situations," Current said. "It's one of those things about life that bad choices induce bad consequences."
State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said in a statement he was pleased Simpson and Howard were safe and able to go home to their families the day of the shooting.
"While we never celebrate the loss of life in any capacity, I was confident that Officer Simpson performed and reacted in just the way he was trained and that his actions saved not only his own life but the lives of all those around him that day," Kassetas said.
Wilson was a passenger in a white pickup truck pulled over by Howard, who believed it was the vehicle possibly linked to a string of burglaries, according to a New Mexico State Police press release. Simpson provided back up on the traffic stop.
Two occupants of the vehicle, Terry Joplin and Kaytlynn Arnold, were arrested for active warrants.
Wilson exited the vehicle and had his hands cuffed in front of him. He then retrieved a .357 magnum revolver from his pants and fired one shot into Simpson's chest, which struck the officer's badge and body armor.
The report also details the shootout between Wilson and the officers, describing how Simpson and Wilson exchanged gunfire before Howard became involved.
It states Howard fired her handgun at Wilson, who responded by turning to face Howard and pointing his revolver at her. Howard then fired her weapon again until Wilson went to the ground, according to the report.
Wilson was pronounced dead at the scene, and four empty casings were found in his revolver.
The DA's Office investigation included a review of the video and audio from a dash camera in the patrol vehicle pointed toward the suspect and Simpson, as well as statements by the officers and witnesses of the shooting.
Wilson likely drew and fired his revolver because Simpson would have found the firearm on Wilson after Wilson stated he was a convicted felon, and possession of the weapon could have resulted in him returning to prison, according to the report.
"He escalated it to lethal force unexpectedly," O'Brien said.
Wilson already had convictions for residential burglary, possession of a controlled substance and possession of a firearm as a felon. There also was a pending case with 16 felony charges in district court against Wilson when he was killed.
Thpse charges included aggravated burglary, larceny and 12 counts of possession of a firearm or destructive device by a felon, according to The Daily Times archives.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.