The two officers involved in Tuesday night’s fatal shooting of a suspect are placed on paid leave. That is standard procedure for the Amarillo Police Department.
Officers Bryan Gaitan and Michael Wheeler are both five-year veterans of the police force. They were both involved in last night’s shooting death of Jason Magana Herrera, 35.
Investigators said Gaitan was the one who fired the fatal shot when Herrera pointed a gun at the officers as they were trying to arrest him.
The shooting happened just after 6 p.m. Tuesday night on the grounds of the Nelson Street Apartments at Southeast Sixth and Nelson.
The officers involved were responding to a trespassing call when they encountered Herrera at the apartment complex.
This is not the first time police have been called to this apartment complex involving the same people. It occurred earlier this month.
Different officers were responding to a domestic violence situation on June 12, though the same people, including Herrera, were involved.
No arrests occurred at that time.
Yesterday’s event is also described as a domestic violence incident, though the original call was on trespassing.
Investigators said officers Gaitan and Wheeler attempted to detain Herrera when he resisted arrest. He also allegedly managed to break free of the taser probes used on him.
Police spokesman Jeb Hilton said when Herrera pulled out a gun and pointed it at officers, Gaitan fired several shots at the suspect. Herrera died at the scene despite efforts to keep him alive.
The officers will be on leave while special crimes investigate.
“There’s a chance when they’re not working they’ll be coming in for interviews or filling out reports in regards to the investigation,” said Hilton.
The case will eventually be handed over to the Potter County District Attorney. He will present the case to a grand jury who will eventually decide if the officers’ actions were justified.
As we reported earlier, this case began as a domestic violence incident, something that has become all too familiar for police and organizations that deal with this type of violence.
Investigators said Herrera did not fire the gun at officers, though he did point it at them. It’s unclear if Herrera had the gun lawfully, that is because he’s a convicted felon. He was sentenced to sixteen years in prison in 2001 for attempted capital murder.