The Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office has determined that the June 17 officer-involved fatal shooting of Francisco “Paco” Tarin was justified, clearing the 11 law enforcement officers who discharged their weapons that day.
The officers are, from the Las Cruces Police Department: Charli Velasco, David Ramirez, Francis Whitten, Eduardo Salinas, Sgt. Joshua Savage and Sgt. Jonathan Boehne; Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office deputy Jesus Ortegon and Sgt. Scott Bayles; U.S. Border Patrol agents Travis Gulledge and Cheatum Casey; and New Mexico State Police officer Jaime Dominguez.
In a letter dated Sept. 5, 2019, District Attorney Mark D’Antonio indicated, “This office will not be taking any action against these officers.” As part of D’Antonio’s review of the incident, he also cleared LCPD officer Antony Harrison of any wrongdoing. Harrison was the officer ambushed and shot while behind the wheel of his marked unit on June 17, preceding the officer-involved shooting.
About 2:20 a.m. on Monday, June 17, Harrison was dispatched to the report of a suspicious man at the Jack in the Box restaurant, 501 S. Telshor Blvd. The man, later identified as 35-year-old Francisco “Paco” Tarin, was inside the restaurant and appeared to be concealing something underneath his jacket. Harrison began looking for the man who left the Jack in the Box heading north and east across Lohman Avenue.
The investigation revealed that Harrison located Tarin near the intersection of Lohman Avenue and Nacho Drive. Harrison drove into the Office Max parking lot in his marked police unit and made a U-turn toward Tarin. When Harrison attempted to put a spotlight on Tarin, Tarin opened fire on the police unit. The investigation revealed Tarin fired three rounds into the front of Harrison’s unit and four more rounds as Harrison, unaware of the extent of his injuries, drove out of the parking lot on his way to Memorial Medical Center.
Harrison, a 2015 graduate from the Las Cruces Police Department Academy, was struck on the neck by a round that penetrated the windshield of his patrol unit. Harrison drove himself to MMC while dispatching pertinent information and direction of travel of the suspect. Harrison also had abrasions to his arm and cheek consistent with being struck by shattered glass.
Tarin, who has resided in Las Cruces and Roswell, N.M., was located near The Home Depot. Officers from several agencies – including LCPD, the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico State Police and the U.S. Border Patrol – surrounded the suspect and gave multiple commands for him to show hands and cooperate. Tarin refused those commands. Officers discharged less-lethal bean bag rounds before Tarin fired at least one round toward officers. Six LCPD officers, two Dona Ana County Sheriff’s deputies, two Border Patrol agents and one New Mexico State Police officer responded to the deadly threat and returned fire. Tarin died at the scene.
The Officer-involved Incident Task Force investigated the incident before forwarding its findings to the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office for review. The task force includes investigators from New Mexico State Police, Las Cruces Police, Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State University Police.