Farmington police ID victim, new details released about Aug. 20 fatal shooting

DA's office filed motion to keep suspect in jail with no bond

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • John Davidson, 45, of Farmington, is accused of second-degree felony counts of murder and shooting at or from a motor vehicle (great bodily harm).
  • Justin Tapaha, 45, of Fruitland, was identified as victim in the shooting.
  • The defendant's preliminary hearing is scheduled for the morning of Sept. 2 in Farmington Magistrate Court.

FARMINGTON — The Farmington man accused of an Aug. 20 murder was allegedly in his vehicle when he shot the victim during a confrontation.

The investigation left police wondering why the suspect didn't drive away from the scene and why he continued to engage with the victim after the initial confrontation.

John Davidson, 45, of Farmington, is accused of second-degree felony counts of murder and shooting at or from a motor vehicle (great bodily harm), according to the criminal complaint.

The defendant is accused of fatally shooting Justin Tapaha, 45, of Fruitland, on the night of Aug. 20 in the area of the Airport Drive and West Main Street intersection, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Lee McMillian, Davidson's attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.

Farmington police were initially dispatched around 7:53 p.m. on Aug. 20 to the Anasazi Inn at 903 W. Main St. on reports of a shooting.

John Davidson

A sergeant found Davidson and Tapaha in the roadway just north of the West Main Street and Airport Drive intersection.

Tapaha was found lying in the road and Davidson was standing near the victim, talking on the telephone.

Davidson invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination after making some initial statements to police and he was not interviewed by police.

Officers rendered aid to Tapaha's single gunshot wound to the chest before paramedics transported him to San Juan Regional Medical Center, where he died from his injuries.

More:Man arrested, accused of second-degree murder in west Farmington shooting

Investigators reviewed video surveillance footage from Airport Auto Center at 103 Airport Dr. as part of the investigation.

Davidson was observed driving a black Chevy Camaro north on Airport Drive and stopping in the roadway. Tapaha is seen interacting with the vehicle and pointing at it. Davidson told police he believed Tapaha was a friend, but was wrong. Tapaha then approached the vehicle and lunged toward the back of the vehicle, appearing to make contact with the rear of the vehicle with his hand.

The vehicle then accelerated quickly, driving about three car lengths before it stopped again. Tapaha approached the vehicle again but stopped at the sidewalk, about eight feet away from the vehicle and appears to talk to Davidson.

Davidson allegedly raised his firearm at Tapaha while he was walking toward the vehicle, according to court documents. The passenger window of the Camaro was rolled down during the alleged incident.

Tapaha approached the vehicle again as Davidson allegedly raised the firearm a second time.

As Tapaha slowly walked toward the vehicle and raised his right arm to the door handle, Davidson allegedly shot him once in the chest.

It is noted in the affidavit that Tapaha did not make physical contact with the vehicle or reach into the vehicle before he was shot.

The defendant claimed Tapaha reached into his vehicle, according to court documents.

The affidavit also states Davidson had an opportunity to leave the area after the first contact with Tapaha but did not.

"It is uncertain why (Davidson) did not leave the area after realizing (Tapaha) was not a friend and a confrontation occurred," according to the affidavit.

A Glock handgun, magazine and 14 rounds of ammunition were found in the Camaro, according to court documents.

The San Juan County District Attorney's Office filed a motion on Aug. 24 to hold Davidson without bond while he awaits trial at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

A hearing on the prosecution's motion is set for the morning of Aug. 27 in Aztec District Court.

The defendant's preliminary hearing is scheduled for the morning of Sept. 2 in Farmington Magistrate Court.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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