By DAVID CORREIA
A U.S. Marshal shot a man in the head today just after 9:30 AM in Albuquerque’s South Valley. Eyewitnesses to the shooting described a chaotic scene.
Barbara Valdez and her son Gabriel were sitting in a vehicle in a parking lot northwest of Bridge and Sunset when they witnessed plainclothes agents emerge from unmarked cars. A female agent wearing a sweatshirt and jeans approached two men sitting in a green Ford Ranger pickup. Valdez was less than 20 yards from green Ford. As the agent reached for the driver’s-side door, Valdez heard shouts of “Get out! Get out!” and then, almost immediately, saw the female officer raise her weapon and fire into the vehicle, shooting the driver in the head. The car was moving backwards as the agent fired. As the truck rolled backwards, agents fired four or five more rounds into the vehicle. (NOTE: if the video below does not work, you can access it directly on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZYinuwd-EI)
Another eyewitness sitting in a vehicle at a red light heading east on Bridge heard gunfire and saw 10-12 plainclothes agents swarm the vehicle as it came to a stop in a parking adjacent to Sunset Boulevard. Agents quickly hauled away the passenger of the truck in handcuffs while other agents pulled the driver out of the vehicle and onto the pavement, where bystanders saw him bleeding from the head.
Bystanders swarmed the scene, some videotaping U.S. Marshals, who they filmed milling around the vehicle while the victim bled from his head onto the parking lot pavement.
Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived quickly and secured the scene, which included confiscating cell phones, including those of Barbara Valdez and her son, who had been videotaping the shooting and its aftermath. I interviewed her less than an hour after the shooting. “The Mayor asked for a million dollars to train cops,” she said as she waited for her car, which was behind the yellow crime scene tape that stretched across Bridge and Sunset Blvd. “What for? To kill again.”
One bystander’s video survived the mass confiscation and has been uploaded to YouTube. It is available here. In addition, graphic still photos of the victim have been circulating on twitter and Facebook.
Valdez, her son, and other eyewitnesses reported that no shots came from the victim’s vehicle. Bystander videos show no weapons at the scene other than those of the U.S. Marshals.
The victim was transported by ambulance to UNMH where, according to police, he is listed in stable condition.
According to official statements from the U.S. Marshal’s Service Task Force, one Marshal was injured in the shooting. “Now they’re saying an officer was hurt. How? Injured with what?” asked a shaken and angry Barbara Valdez. “He didn’t shoot. They did all the shooting.”
She told me to talk to her son, Gabriel. He told me that he once knew James Boyd, who was killed by Albuquerque police on March 16. “I knew him when we were teenagers,” he said. Other kids used to tease Boyd by sticking pins and nails into him. “He must have had the ability to switch off pain receptors, because he just took it.”
Protesters began to gather as quickly as APD and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputies could secure the scene.
At 1 PM a young man named Carlos Romero, who identified himself as the boyfriend of the victim’s sister, stopped to talk to protestors. “His name is Gilbert Angelo Serrano. They shot him in the head. I saw him last night. They say he’s in stable condition.” Romero tells us that he’s the father of a seven year-old daughter.
While we’re talking we can see APD and Bernalillo County Deputies milling around the 40-foot Incident Command Center mobile home and ambulance-sized Crime Scene Unit across the street. They’re taking pictures and filming the green Ford truck.
Romero gets in his car and he tells me that he’s going to get Serrano’s sister.
Protesters stand on street corners waving quickly made signs. The sound of cars honking their support makes interviewing witnesses difficult.
At 2:30 PM Sergeant Williamson of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department makes a statement in the parking lot across the street from the shooting.
U.S. Marshals were attempting to apprehend a man they said “absconded from state parole in February of this year.” Their statement says Serrano “committed new crimes to include; aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, child abuse 3 counts, and felon in possession of a firearm.”
I ask if Serrano was armed. Williamson says that’s part of the investigation. “Why would you need to investigate that?” I ask. He doesn’t answer.
A KOB TV reporter asks to interview my 13-year old daughter, Harper Correia-Kuehn, who is holding a sign in protest. Harper agrees and explains that police have been killing people. It has to stop. The reporter says, “But this isn’t APD. Are you just against law enforcement?” Harper looks at her incredulously. “I’m against police violence.”
Less than 30 minutes later Serrano’s sister Janice arrives at the scene. She’s frightened and angry. “He’s a fucking human being,” she says. “They didn’t have to shoot him. God is his judge, not these motherfuckers.” (NOTE: if the video below does not work, you can access it directly on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKByw3CYPfc)
A man pulls his car off Bridge Street and into the parking lot where we’re standing. He calls me over. “This has become just the Albuquerque gun holding department, not the police department.” He drives away. Cars keep honking while protesters wave signs. Janice drives away to return to the hospital where, she tells us, Marshals and APD officers are standing guard, refusing entry to any family of Serrano.
At 6:30 the yellow crime-scene tape finally comes down. The Bernalillo County Fire Department arrives and hoses off the bloodstains on the pavement. Serrano’s car is towed away.
Activists send out a call for a 7 PM South Valley Vigil for Peace and Justice. More than thirty people arrive. They chant and wave signs from various corners.
Gilbert Angelo Serrano remains at the UNM hospital in what officials describe as stable condition. His family has not been allowed to see him.