District Attorney Clears LAPD Officer In February Firearm Discharge During Pajarito Cliffs Incident




First Judicial District Attorney Marco P. Serna Thursday notified Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone that Cpl. Jemuel Montoya’s discharge of his firearm during a Feb. 17 incident at Pajarito Cliffs Site at 1001 Camino Entrada has been cleared.

“Based on a complete review of the information submitted to the District Attorney’s Office, the evidence indicates that the discharge of Officer Jemuel Montoya’s weapon was justified and that there is no evidence to suggest Officer Montoya was unlawful in discharging his firearm given the immediate threat of death he was placed in,” Serna’s letter states.

The investigation into the incident was conducted by New Mexico State Police Investigations at Sgambellone’s request.

Sgambellone tole The Los Alamos Reporter Thursday evening that a police officer’s job is a challenging one given the split second decisions officers must routinely make.

“So we train extensively and we work very hard to ensure above all else that the community we are sworn to protect is policed professionally and ethically,” he said. “I am appreciative that in this case, an outside review determined the officer acted lawfully.”

The preliminary details of the investigation released by NMSP Feb. 28 indicates that LAPD had been investigating numerous burglaries of buildings at the Pajarito Cliffs Site and that while conducting surveillance at aroud 3:30 a.m. Feb. 17, undercover officers observed a suspect, Antonio Trujillo, exit a Jeep dressed in black and holding bolt cutters. When Trujillo approached the secured locked area near Building 5, Montoya was dispatched to the scene to make contact with him.

The NMSP said Montoya arrived in a marked unit, parked a short distance in front of the Jeep, engaged his emergency equipment, exited his patrol unit and gave commands for commands for Trujillo to stop but Trujillo did not comply, ran to the Jeep and began to flee the scene.

A second LAPD A second LAPD unit had arrived at this time and parked near the right side of Montoya’s patrol unit, and Trujillo drove between the two marked LAPD patrol units toward Montoya’s location. At that time, the report says Montoya fired four shots from his issued AR-15 rifle.

The Jeep fled from officers onto N.M. 502 and headed toward Espanola. LAPD and other agencies pursued the vehicle to Espanola where it turned onto Corlett Road and crashed. Antonio Trujillo fled on foot into a wooded area and was not located by the officers at the scene but was later arrested for an unrelated warrant.

The Jeep, which had been stolen in Santa Fe, was investigated by Santa Fe Police Department and the burglaries were investigated by LAPD with both agencies being assisted by NMSP. No injuries were received during the incident.

Antonio Trujillo, 30, and his brother Gregorio Trujillo, 29, both of Santa Fe, were subsequently arrested and charged with multiple offenses.

Antonio Trujillo was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, aggravated fleeing of a law enforcement officer, unlawful taking of vehicle,  receiving/transferring a stolen vehicle, six  counts of non-residential burglary, seven counts of larceny, 12 counts of breaking and entering,  and one count of conspiracy to commit non-residential burglary.

Gregorio Trujillo was charged with 12 counts of breaking and entering, four counts of non-residential burglary and four counts of larceny.