New Mexico AG Charges Officer In Fatal 2022 Shooting Of Black Man At Gas Station

Officer Brad Lunsford was charged with voluntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Presley C. Eze Jr., the attorney general office says.

A Las Cruces, N.M., police officer has been charged with voluntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a Black man on Aug. 2, 2022.

According to Attorney General Raúl Torrez, Las Cruces Police Department officer Brad Lunsford was taken into custody on Tuesday (Oct. 3) for fatally shooting Presley C. Eze Jr., at a Las Cruces gas station, USA Today Reports.

Lunsford turned himself in on Tuesday, but he was processed, released and placed on paid administrative leave.

The attorney general's office reported that Eze exited the gas station with an unpaid beer and the gas attendant called 911. Torrez says Lunsford escalated the situation and used unnecessary deadly force.

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Station KRQE reports that the AG’s office said at an Oct. 3 news conference that the Doña Ana County District Attorney wasn’t forthcoming with evidence, adding that information was hidden and videos were obscured.

A second officer, Keegan Arbogast, was also present at the gas station during the fatality but has no pending criminal charges.

Albuquerque attorney Luis Robles, representing the city of Las Cruces in the case, says both officers were originally placed on administrative leave following the shooting but returned to duty after their statements were given to Mexico State Police.

Connecticut-born Eze, 36, stopped at a Chevron gas station the afternoon of August 2, 2022, to purchase a pack of cigarettes. According to the police report, the station clerk requested ID, but Eze didn’t have it on him, resulting in the clerk stopping the purchase.

One of Eze’s friends attempted to buy the cigarettes for him, but the clerk declined. According to police, another clerk witnessed Eze return to the store, walk to the beer section and grab a Budweiser before leaving. The first clerk who refused the cigarette purchase followed Eze out of the store.

The clerk asked Eze from a distance if he paid for the beer that was valued at under $5, as he headed toward the 2000s green Pontiac Torrent he arrived in, according to police reports.

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“Suck it and pay for it,” the clerk told police Eze said to him. Both clerks said their manager instructed them to call the police.

The affidavit provided on Oct. 2 by the attorney general’s office said Lunsford arrived in a police vehicle and initially made contact with the driver of the Pontiac while a shirtless Eze was on the passenger side.

Eze resisted attempts to be taken into custody, and that’s when a “scuffle ensued,” the attorney general’s office states. During the scuffle, Eze ended up on top of one of the responding officers, in an attempt to take his taser. In response, Lunsford pulled out his gun and shot Eze at point-blank range on the left side of his head.

"The killing of Presley Eze is a tragedy and serves as yet another example of poor police tactics resulting in an unjustifiable use of force to subdue an individual resisting arrest for the commission of a minor crime,” Torrez said.

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