The Las Cruces, New Mexico Police Department has launched an investigation after an officer was struck by a suspect fleeing in a vehicle following a response to a welfare check at a Sonic Drive-In.
The altercation occurred just before 4 PM on Monday at the Sonic Drive-In located on North Main Street in Las Cruces. The graphic hit-and-run was caught on video.
(Video Credit: KTSM 9 News)
When the officers arrived for the welfare check they determined that the motorist needed to be taken into custody. At some point during the incident, at least one shot was fired. Gunshots can be heard as the vehicle speeds away in the video. This is reportedly the third officer-involved shooting in February in the city.
The injured officer was taken to the hospital. He has a serious leg injury and is in critical condition but no other details have been released at this time.
Footage of the confrontation showed a struggle that took place with people commenting that the police tasered the individual and that the driver was screaming.
A #LasCruces officer was injured during a welfare check at a Sonic restaurant. This is a video of when the suspect fled and shots can be heard (credit: Anonymous) STORY: https://t.co/TSilWDsLaf pic.twitter.com/B9nZ0oXdmB
— CBS4Local (@CBS4Local) February 16, 2021
After an intense search through west Las Cruces neighborhoods, the vehicle that hit the officer was later located.
Police are still searching for the suspect who hit the officer and then ditched the car with 40-year-old Mark James Esquibel allegedly being a person of interest in the incident. The police would like to have a word with him.
This video shows the moment police say an LCPD officer was struck by a fleeing vehicle this afternoon.
Police say they believe at least one shot was fired in the incident, but you can hear more than that in the video. pic.twitter.com/souhBorw0s
— Keenan Willard (@keenanwillardtv) February 16, 2021
The Las Cruces Police Department is seeking information concerning this case. Anyone with information on where Esquibel is or might be should contact them at (575) 526-0795 immediately.
This tragic confrontation comes just days after a New Mexico State Police officer, Darian Jarrott, was shot and killed during a highway stop. Jarrott joined the State Police in 2015.
The police department issued a statement on their Facebook page concerning the condition of the injured officer.
The officer’s identity has not been released.
The altercation went viral on social media and many were quick to comment on it.
“The car was long gone before the shooting started. People could have been hit in the urban area. That’s almost surely a reckless shooting. Hope the officer run over makes a full recovery,” tweeted Kevin S. Gillespie.
Another person claimed there were at least 5 shots fired.
Gary E. Meyer tweeted: “Prayers to the officer on passenger side of the vehicle. One never knows when you are in harms way as a LEO anywhere. Not sure why the shots were fired when car was clearly away however-I’d like the bodycam video.”
“People need to start supporting our law enforcement officers more n stop complaining when they have to use force. They always go in not knowing what to expect but they go in regardless. Prayers for all officers. May God keep them safe and protect them always,” commented another person on Facebook.
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