State Police investigating April APD shooting

May 3—Authorities have identified the man shot and killed by Albuquerque Police Department officers near Spain and Eubank NE late last month as 20-year-old John Withers.

Police say Withers shot at officers after a reported carjacking and pursuit and they returned fire.

APD recused itself from the investigation and asked New Mexico State Police to take over as the primary agency because one of the officers who shot Withers is the son of the acting sergeant over APD’s Multi Agency Task Force. The task force is made up of APD, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and State Police and it investigates shootings by law enforcement.

Gilbert Gallegos, an APD spokesman, said the officers who shot Withers are officer Shay Babcock — the son of MATF Sgt. Tod Babcock — missing persons detective Bryce Willsey and armed robbery detective Greg Reams.

Willsey has been with the department since 2015; Shay Babcock since 2016; and Reams since 2019, Gallegos said.

He could not provide information on how many shootings each had been involved in but Journal records show this is Willsey’s fifth shooting since 2018. Journal records don’t show prior shootings for either of the other officers.

Around 6:30 pm April 6, APD was called to the Chateau Apartments on Osuna NE near the Arroyo Del Oso golf course about a carjacking.

The victim told investigators a man had forced him out of his green BMW at gunpoint, said Officer Ray Wilson, a State Police spokesman. Officers found the BMW about a half-mile away near Academy and McKinney NE and pursued it. During the pursuit, the suspect — later identified as Withers — drove erratically, ran red lights and drove on the wrong side of the road, Wilson said. He said marked APD units discontinued the chase and detectives in unmarked units continued to follow the car. On Osuna, east of Wyoming, Withers parked the car and began running down a dirt path into a nearby arroyo.

Wilson said detectives and uniformed officers caught up with Withers and saw he was holding a gun in his hand. They ordered him to stop and drop the weapon.

“Withers ran from officers and at one point stopped and turned towards the officers,” Wilson said. “Withers fired shots at officers, and a detective fired his duty weapon, striking Withers. Withers took off running again. Officers continued to pursue Withers on foot. He stopped a second time and turned towards officers and moved his hands towards officers like he was about to shoot again. An APD uniformed officer, and a second detective, fired their duty rifles, striking Withers.”

Withers died at the scene. The Journal could not reach his family members.

Two days after the shooting, APD asked State Police to take over as the primary agency investigating the shooting. Wilson said the State Police investigations bureau had been involved from the start as the secondary agency.

The shooting was the fifth of seven by Albuquerque police so far this year. Among those, four have been fatal, one resulted in injuries and in two cases no one was hit.

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