New details on an officer-involved shooting along Tramway Blvd. NE Nov. 5 emerged during a press conference Friday, Dec. 2.
At 2:20 a.m. Nov. 2, officers from the Foothills Command Area responded to a report of a single-vehicle crash in the center median of Tramway just south of Menaul. When they arrived, the saw a driver and front-seat passenger in the vehicle, which had been damaged from crashing into signs along southbound Tramway.
In and interview with detectives, the passenger said he and the driver, Julian Sanchez, 21, were drinking alcohol for several hours. He said they purchased alcohol at about 8 p.m. and drank at home before driving to Sandia Casino to gamble. He said they were intoxicated and argued about driving home.
However, Sanchez drove home from the casino, the passenger told detectives, and headed east on Tramway. The passenger recalled hitting what he though was a jersey barrier at one point, and at about 2:30 a.m., the vehicle passed Menaul, heading south, and crashed into road signs, coming to a rest in the median.
Officer Nicholas Steward and another officer responded to the crash in the 1900 block of Tramway Blvd. NE. One officer approached the passenger side of the crashed vehicle and spoke to the male in that seat. He stated he was OK and the officer had him exit the vehicle.
Steward approached the driver side of the vehicle to check on the driver. As he approached, the other officer yelled out that the drive had a gun. The officers gave the driver, Sanchez, orders to drop the gun, and Steward fired his handgun, striking Sanchez several times. Sanchez died in the vehicle.
In a later interview, Steward said he heard his partner yell the drive had a gun and then observed the gun himself. As he gave commands to drop the weapons, he said he believed Sanchez fired the gun and started to point it at him, so he fire. A gun was recovered from inside the vehicle.
Steward has been with APD since 2020 and has not been involved in any other officer-involved shootings.
Over the coming months, APD will continue to investigate the incident, and the Force Review Board will forward the findings to the superintendent of police reform. The Multi-Agency Task Force will also forward its case to the district attorney’s office.