Man shot by Farmington police gets three years in prison for assault on officer

Very little information available for defendant's federal case

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
Brian Benally is pictured in the circle pointing a handgun at a Farmington Police officer on May 10 and was shot by four officers at the scene. He will serve three years in a state prison for assaulting an officer that day.
  • Brian Benally, 30, was convicted of a third-degree felony count of aggravated assault on a peace officer and a petty misdemeanor counts of negligent use of a deadly weapon as part of a Jan. 10 plea agreement, according to court documents.
  • Benally was sentenced during a Jan. 20 hearing in front of District Court Judge Karen Townsend in Aztec District Court, according to court documents.
  • He got three years for the aggravated assault conviction and six months for the petty misdemeanor conviction will served them concurrently or at the same time.

FARMINGTON — The man shot by Farmington police last year after he pointed a gun at an officer will serve three years in prison after being sentenced in state district court in late January.

Brian Benally, 30, was convicted of a third-degree felony count of aggravated assault on a peace officer and a petty misdemeanor count of negligent use of a deadly weapon as part of a Jan. 10 plea agreement, according to court documents.

Benally was sentenced during a Jan. 20 hearing in front of District Court Judge Karen Townsend in Aztec District Court, according to court documents.

He got three years for the aggravated assault conviction and six months for the petty misdemeanor conviction and will serve them concurrently.

Brian Benally

A third-degree felony count of being a felon in possession of a firearm along with four petty misdemeanor counts of negligent use of a deadly weapon were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O’Brien told The Daily Times the officer who Benally pointed the gun at was consulted by the prosecution and agreed to move the case forward with the plea agreement.

O’Brien also said state laws regarding sentencing for violent assaults and batteries need to be revisited, wondering aloud why a man who pointed a gun at a police officer would only get three years in prison.

Shellie Patscheck, Benally’s attorney, told The Daily Times her client is pleased with the resolution of his case.

“We feel that the plea agreement served justice, especially in light of the extensive injuries Mr. Benally faced as well as the pending federal charges,” Patscheck said.

Farmington Police officers photographed shell casing evidence on May 10 next to a business on West Main Street. Brian Benally fired a pistol 25 times toward the sky in the downtown Farmington area that day.

Benally was shot by four Farmington Police Department officers on May 10 when he pointed a handgun at an officer in the 100 block of West Animas Street in downtown Farmington.

Law enforcement conducted an exhaustive search that day after Benally fired 25 rounds in the air from a pistol while walking around downtown Farmington.

He was transported to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque for treatment of his injuries from the shooting.

He had been held at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center since his arrest.

Benally’s online jail records showed a “Convicted Felon in Poss of Firearm/Ammunition” federal criminal case, but there is very little public information available on the case.

He was transferred out of the county jail at 3:43 a.m. on Feb. 10 and no court documents showed his destination.

O’Brien said Benally had a federal government hold at the county jail. Patscheck mentioned the federal case when Benally was arrested and when he was sentenced.

Benally’s sentencing by Judge Townsend mentioned that the Jan. 20 sentencing is to run concurrent with “the defendant’s federal cases,” according to court documents.

An FBI spokesperson previously told The Daily Times the U.S Department of Justice prevents him from denying or confirming FBI investigations.

A U.S. Department of Justice spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system doesn’t have a criminal case listed for Benally.

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.

Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e