FARMINGTON – A Farmington police officer who shot and killed a man this week was involved in two previous shootings, including a fatal one in 2006 that raised questions about racism and strained the city’s relations with Native Americans.
Farmington police say both previous shootings by Sgt. Shawn Scott were ruled justified.
In the 2006 incident, Scott shot and killed a 21-year-old Navajo man who authorities say charged Scott as police responded to a fight in a store parking lot.
In the most recent shooting, police say Scott shot 49-year-old Mark Chavez of Farmington on Tuesday, The Daily Times of Farmington reported.
The newspaper reported Chavez made a phone call to lure police to a residence and then was shot when he threatened Scott with what police described as a “blunt-impact weapon.”
Scott originally tried to stop Chavez with a stun gun, but it was ineffective, Farmington Police Department Lt. Taft Tracy said.
New Mexico State Police are investigating. Lt. Tim Johnson said the agency won’t elaborate on Chavez’s weapon until its investigation is complete.
In June 2006, Scott shot and killed Clint John of Kirtland. Police said John was intoxicated and involved in a physical fight with his girlfriend in a store parking lot.
Police said Scott shot John when John grabbed the officer’s baton and threatened him with it. But John’s family said John struggled with Scott after the officer beat him with the baton.
Navajo leaders organized rallies in Farmington to protest John’s death, but a police investigation concluded the shooting was justified. The shooting prompted Farmington to form a Community Relations Commission in December 2007 to deal with race and cultural relations.
In 2009, a federal jury ruled against a lawsuit by John’s family that claimed Scott acted beyond his rights and used excessive force in the shooting.
The third shooting that Scott was involved in occurred in 2009, when he shot a suspect in the hand. That shooting also was ruled justified, Tracy said.
Scott has been a Farmington police officer since 1996. He previously was an Aztec police officer.