ESPAÑOLA — The New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau was contacted Tuesday, June 8 to investigate a police shooting involving the Española Police Department (EPD).
At approximately 9:30 p.m., EPD responded to a welfare check on a vehicle in the parking lot of the Ranchitos Park in Española. Upon arrival, two EPD officers made contact with a male and female outside the vehicle.
The male, later identified as Louis Nathan Leyba, 38, of Española entered the vehicle and sat down in the driver’s seat. While EPD Offc. Derrick Valdez attempted to speak to the female who was standing next to an open passenger side door, she got into the vehicle and sat down in the passenger seat when Lebya began to drive the vehicle backward.
Ofc. Valdez became stuck between the door and vehicle. He grabbed onto the door for his safety, but his feet began to drag on the pavement. Ofc. Valdez gave numerous verbal commands for Leyba to stop the vehicle.
Leyba ignored the officer’s commands and continued to drive the vehicle in reverse dragging Ofc. Valdez. At that time, Ofc. Valdez drew his department issued firearm and discharged it at least once toward Leyba, striking him.
During the same time, Ofc. Anthony Martinez also drew his department issued firearm and discharged it toward Leyba. After both officers discharged their firearms, the vehicle came to an abrupt stop, which threw Ofc. Valdez onto the pavement.
Once the vehicle came to a stop, both EPD officers immediately rendered aid to Leyba until emergency medical personnel arrived on scene. Leyba was transported by ambulance to an area hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. He was pronounced deceased at the hospital.
The female passenger in the vehicle sustained minor injuries. She also was transported by ambulance to an area hospital where she was treated and later released.
No officers were injured in the incident.
Ofc. Valdez has been employed with EPD for approximately 2.5 years with 1 year of prior law enforcement experience with the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office.
Ofc. Martinez has been employed with EPD for approximately 2 years and 5 months.
Upon completion of the State Police investigation, this case will be forwarded to an assigned district attorney’s office for review.