Two witnesses are questioning the conduct of Las Cruces police officers involved in Sunday morning’s officer-involved shooting, alleging the officers removed bullet casings from the scene.
The witnesses did not want to be identified.
“Law enforcement should not have handled it that way,” said one witness, who said he directly witnessed the shooting shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday morning.
According to the police department, officers were dispatched to a domestic incident on Lees Drive near Idaho Avenue in Las Cruces. Police said Charles Campolla shared the home with his girlfriend and her teenaged daughter.
The girl reportedly called police to report Campolla was armed with a gun and threatening others.
Three Las Cruces police officers arrived to find a barefoot Campolla outside the home. The officers reportedly gave multiple commands for Campolla to show his hands but he refused to do so, police said. “At some point, Campolla is believed to have pointed a gun at one of the officers,” police said in a news release, “An officer fired at least one round at Campolla as the suspect ducked in front of the vehicle parked in the driveway.”
Police said Campolla was not struck and was taken into custody. The black handgun Campolla was armed with was allegedly located by investigators in the front, driver’s side tire well of the vehicle parked in the driveway, police said.
Campolla was charged with a single count of aggravated assault upon a peace officer.
A witness told ABC-7 a vehicle and the home on the property were struck by rounds fired by the police officers.
“To just pull up and start shooting at somebody’s house. There’s children, there’s kids, there’s people in the area,” the witness said.
Police officers say at least one shot was fired, but another witness told ABC-7 he observed an officer picking up bullet casings before investigators arrived.
“He put them in his pocket,” the second witness said. “(The officer) picked up three different gun casings. I watched them. One, then two, then three. Then he put them in his pocket.”
“I felt like they were trying to cover their tracks, honestly,” the first witness said, “They were in the wrong and they found a reason to arrest him.”
ABC-7 observed at least three bullet holes: one in a window of the home and two in the rear windshield of a vehicle on the property.
“He never once was abusive to the police or threatened the police,” the second witness said. “He was just more irritated at the fact that they opened fired and could have harmed other family members.”
When ABC-7 asked the police department about the claims, a spokesman said he could not comment on an ongoing investigation. He said they still need to interview more witnesses.