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Sheriff's Office releases video footage of Aug. 31 fatal shooting of suspect

Deputy who shot and killed suspect has returned to active duty

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • Marco Benito, 36, of Albuquerque, was shot and killed by a San Juan County Sheriff's Office deputy around 9 to 9:30 am. on Aug. 31 in an irrigation ditch near County Road 3177.
  • One gunshot struck Benito in his torso after he reached his right hand into his bag while standing in the ditch during a confrontation with law enforcement
  • The San Juan County District Attorney's Office is conducting its initial review of the investigation but won't make a decision if charges will be filed against the deputy until the investigation is complete.

FARMINGTON — The Albuquerque man who was shot and killed by a San Juan County Sheriff's Office deputy in August did not have a firearm that he claimed to have after committing a crime spree that included armed robbery and aggravated assault.

The San Juan County Sheriff's Office on Oct. 1 released a nearly 10-minute video which included patrol and body camera footage from the fatal shooting of suspect Marco Benito, 36, as the agency also released new details into the investigation.

Benito was killed between 9 and 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 31 in an irrigation ditch near County Road 3177.

One gunshot struck Benito in his torso after he reached his right hand into his bag while standing in the ditch during a confrontation with law enforcement, according to a Sheriff's Office press release and video.

San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari said in the Oct. 1 video that Benito told deputies five times that he had a gun, that deputies gave 53 commands for Benito to exit the ditch and that the suspect told deputies 27 times that he was refusing to comply with their orders.

Deputies rushed to attend to Benito once it was deemed safe, but he died from his injuries at the scene.

"Across our nation the public is asking for more transparency when it comes to police use of force in officer involved shootings," San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari said in a statement. "I want to thank you for your patience as our Regional Officer Involved Shooting Task Force and my office investigated this incident."

Reportedly stolen items were found at the scene but no firearm was located.

The investigation by the San Juan County Regional Officer Involved Shooting Taskforce determined the deputy fired his weapon in accordance with Sheriff's Office policy.

The deputy has returned to active duty after being on administrative leave, according to San Juan County Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Kristi Hughes.

A screen capture of an Oct. 1 video posted by the San Juan County Sheriff's Office depicts how suspect Marco Benito of Albuquerque was shot and killed by a deputy after the suspect claimed multiple times to have a gun.

The video released depicts the crime spree Benito went on during the morning of Aug. 31 through audio calls to dispatch along with patrol vehicle and body-camera footage captured by deputies.

Multiple crimes committed by Benito including stealing multiple vehicles, assaulting a person with a spear-type weapon and forced entry into a residence where a nine-year-old boy was home alone.

The video also shows Benito leading deputies on a high-speed pursuit, where Ferrari described Benito's behavior as having no regard for the safety of motorists on the road.

The graphic body-camera footage shows deputies pursuing Benito on foot until confronting him while he was waist-deep in the water of the irrigation ditch.

The footage does show Benito being shot as multiple rounds were fired at the suspect. The press release and video did not state how many rounds were fired, but about four rounds are heard.

The San Juan County District Attorney's Office is conducting its initial review of the investigation but won't make a decision if charges will be filed against the deputy until the investigation is complete, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien.

Some parts of the investigation, including the autopsy and toxicology reports, are pending.

Sheriff Ferrari ends the video by asking the community to be respectful of Benito's family.

He also tells the victims of Benito's crimes that the agency is dedicated to keeping the community safe against violent offenders. 

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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