The man shot and killed by a Las Cruces Police officer earlier this month was shot after he placed a slipknot around his mother’s neck while threatening her with a knife, Las Cruces Police Chief Patrick Gallagher said Thursday.
On Thursday, September 14, 2018, police were dispatched to a home on Tiffany Drive off of Roadrunner Parkway for a domestic disturbance. Shortly after arriving, a police officer shot 47-year-old Gary McKinney, according to the department.
Police said McKinney threatened to shoot his mother and his 16-year-old daughter. The girl called police, who immediately responded to the home.
Police encountered the girl outside the home. While the officers spoke with the girl, they could hear a disturbance from inside the home and the sound of someone who appeared to be in distress.
The police officers attempted to enter the home through the front door, but were unable to do so. A K-9 officer found an open side door leading into the garage. Two officers then entered the home and followed the sound of the disturbance to an area near the kitchen.
The officers could hear McKinney’s mother calling for help and ordered McKinney to exit the kitchen area.
“What they encountered was a domestic violence victim’s worst nightmare,” Gallagher said, adding the officers noticed McKinney was holding a knife to his mother, who also had a slipknot around her neck.
The officer twice ordered McKinney to back away from his mother, but McKinney allegedly refused and the officer fired two rounds.
“This was a rapidly-evolving situation and required immediate action by the officer in order to save the life of Mr. McKinney’s mother,” Gallagher said.
McKinney was struck in the head and fell to the ground. Officers initiated first aid and McKinney was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The police officer who shot McKinney is an 11-year-veteran of the force. The officer was placed on paid administrative leave, standard protocol for an officer-involved shooting.
“Domestic violence situations are very dangerous, and when a child is involved, it could become tragic. I applaud the child for calling police,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher said McKinney was last arrested for assaulting his mother in February 2018 and the domestic violence situation at the home escalated in September 2018. The police chief said that over the past two years, police responded to the McKinney’s home at least 3 times, including 27 times for domestic violence calls.
Gallagher said McKinney had a history of drug and meth use. Meth was allegedly found inside the home, police said.
“In my short time here, I have learned meth is the predominant drug of choice in this community. Meth has more of an agitative effect,” Gallagher said, “I’m not sure if (McKinney) was under the influence of meth at that moment. A toxicology report will determine that.”