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Juan Gabriel Torres, 36
Las Cruces, New Mexico
August 21, 2016

Agencies: Las Cruces Police Department New Mexico

Last updated: 5 months ago

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Las Cruces police on Monday released the name of a 36-year-old man shot and killed by police Sunday afternoon on Lohman Avenue over Interstate 25.

Police Chief Jaime Montoya said the man who was killed, Juan Gabriel Torres of Las Cruces, was armed with a "hunting knife," failed to obey commands to drop the weapon and lunged at officers. The knife had a 9-inch blade and a 5-inch handle, LCPD said.

"They were forced to use deadly force," Montoya said. "He was shot multiple times and transported to the hospital."

Family members of Juan Gabriel Torres, a Las Cruces man fatally shot by police on Sunday afternoon, are objecting to the use of deadly force by law enforcement.

Isabel Torres of Las Cruces, mother of Juan Gabriel Torres, acknowledged on Tuesday that her son had his problems. However, she said he "wasn't a mass murderer" and didn't deserve to be shot by police. Family members planned a vigil on Tuesday night near the site of his' death. A small memorial shrine has been set up there.

"My son was a human being," she said. "He had a family. He had me. He had his brothers. He had his sons."

Police officers fired upon Torres during a confrontation on the Lohman Avenue bridge over Interstate 25. Authorities have said he was a suspect in a robbery and theft of a white truck from an 86-year-old man earlier in the day. The Las Cruces Police Department has said Torres was wielding a 14-inch-long knife and lunged at officers.

Isabel Torres said she thinks officers could have de-escalated the situation through dialogue or non-lethal force. At times when her son had been angry or frustrated, she said he readily calmed down by taking a drive and talking it out.

"Just because you have a badge and a gun does not mean you need to shoot to kill," she said. "Why did they have to kill him when they could've tasered him? I feel like they could have talked to him and calmed him down."

Two or possibly three officers involved in the incident, who police have declined to identify, are on paid administrative leave for at least three days, which is standard, Montoya said.

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On Friday, September 2, 2016, the District Attorney's Office said the two Las Cruces police officers were justified in opening fire on Torres.