The Albuquerque Police Department released details Tuesday about the officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of 27-year-old Keshawn Thomas on Aug. 28.
According to the release, an employee at the Valero at 2721 Coors NW called APD to report a vehicle that had been parked at a gas pump for several hours. Two officers in the Northwest Area Command responded to the call at 11:32 p.m. and found Thomas asleep in the driver’s seat of the car. Officers saw alcohol, including an open container inside the vehicle, and asked Thomas to find someone to pick him up. Since the vehicle was not running, APD could not charge Thomas with drunken driving.
Police asked Thomas to exit the vehicle and sit down. Thomas got out of the car but refused to sit down.
Thomas and the officers then argued, which lead to another officer being requested. The third officer arrived and had Thomas move away from the gas pumps as Thomas smoked a cigarette. Thomas, who had no warrants, was allowed to re-enter his vehicle to get his phone so he could call someone to pick up his car. When asked if he had any weapons in the car, Thomas “said he had a weapon in the trunk and pulled a gun magazine loaded with ammunition from his pocket and handed it to an officer.”
Thomas sat in the driver’s seat with the door open, appearing to search the interior of the car. Officers told him to get his phone and exit the vehicle. About 30 seconds later, one officer called out that Thomas had a gun, and all three officers fired their handguns, killing Thomas.
All three officers told investigators that they saw Thomas produce the gun and start to point it toward them, prompting them to shoot him.
“A loaded handgun, believed to be owned by Thomas, was recovered in the driver’s area of the vehicle. A gun magazine was also found on the driver’s seat. Investigators did not locate a phone in the car after it was searched.”
The involved officers were:
- Marcos Flores, who has been with the department since March 27, 2021, has not been involved in any prior officer-involved shootings.
- Dustin Ketchum, who has been with the department since March 27, 2021, has not been involved in any prior officer-involved shootings.
- Kenneth Skeens, who has been with the department since June 9, 2018, has not been involved in any prior officer-involved shootings.
The release said, “Over the next several months, APD will continue to investigate and analyze this incident. Detectives will continue interviewing any new witnesses that come forward and complete any forensic tests. After the investigation is complete, APD’s Force Review Board will forward the findings to the Superintendent of Police Reform to determine if this incident met the high standards of the Albuquerque Police Department. The Multi-Agency Task Force will forward its case to the District Attorney’s Office to make any determination of criminal charges.”
Following Thomas’ death, dozens took to the streets to protest at Coors and Quail carrying banners and balloons honoring Thomas’ life. They also held up signs calling for an end to police violence.
Barron Jones, senior policy strategist with the ACLU of New Mexico, released the following statement:
“Once again, a New Mexico family is grieving the unnecessary and preventable death of a loved one at the hands of Albuquerque police officers. Thomas’ family deserves a fair and transparent investigation into his death, starting with the release of body-cam footage to shed light on what happened that night. It’s clear that while APD has made some strides under the Court-Approved Settlement Agreement, officers at the department are still killing people and this latest shooting shows there is much more work to be done.
Thomas’ tragic death is also further proof that our current use-of-force laws have completely failed to protect our communities, especially people of color who are disproportionately victims of police violence. New Mexicans urgently need a statewide use of force policy to turn the tide on police violence in our state.”