The judge ruled that “all
signs pointed toward a continuation of the attack” against Deputy Sam
Rodriguez when he shot and killed Manuel Flores
Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal magistrate
judge granted summary judgment and tossed out a lawsuit against a
Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a man in 2014
after the man rammed the deputy’s patrol car.
The judge ruled that
“all signs pointed toward a continuation of the attack” against deputy
Sam Rodriguez when he shot and killed 28-year-old Manuel Flores.
Flores had rammed Rodriguez’s patrol car with a pickup truck near the
4200 block of Coors SW after Rodriguez had been called to the area on a
reported kidnapping. Flores then stepped out of the truck and raised
his hands when Rodriguez — whose legs were pinned in the car after the
collision — fired his weapon, according to the Bernalillo County
“[I]n the short time Deputy Rodriguez had to
assess whether Flores still posed a threat, a reasonable officer in
deputy Rodriguez’s position would have little to no reason to infer that
it was Flores’ intention to surrender when he exited the truck. Indeed,
all signs pointed toward a continuation of the attack,” Magistrate
Judge Steven Yarbrough said in his order, which was filed Monday.
Luis Robles, Rodriguez’s attorney, said his client still has back injuries as a result of the August 2014 incident.
Rodriguez is now a detective with the sheriff’s office.
violence of this impact can hardly be understated and the motivation
cannot be interpreted as anything other than an intent to seriously
injure or kill Deputy Rodriguez,” the judge said. “Under such
circumstances, it would be completely reasonable for an officer in
Deputy Rodriguez’s position to assume that Flores intended to continue
the attack by any means available to him once he exited the truck.”
attorney Paul Kennedy filed the civil lawsuit on behalf of Esther Vera,
Flores’ mother. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in
Albuquerque against Rodriguez and the county commission, was seeking
compensatory damages. Kennedy did not return a call for comment on
In the lawsuit, Kennedy said that Flores was shirtless, unarmed and had his hands raised above his head when he was shot.
plaintiffs argued that Flores raised his arm in order to surrender,
while the defendants said Flores’ gesture was a sign of aggression. The
shooting was recorded on a nearby surveillance camera.
in his ruling, said an eyewitness in a deposition said that it didn’t
appear that Flores was surrendering when he was moving his arms.
a federal judge having reviewed this, we can rest assured that a
thorough review of all the evidence revealed clearly that this was a
legally justified shooting,” Robles said. “And that should give some
comfort to the members of the community.”
Robles said that the
sheriff’s office found that Rodriguez didn’t violate any policies during
the shooting. Former District Attorney Kari Brandenburg cleared him of
any criminal wrongdoing.
Sheriff Manuel Gonzales declined to comment through a spokeswoman.