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SANTA FE, N.M. – Dashcam and body cam footage of a New Mexico State Police officer fatally shot during a traffic stop has been released by authorities, showing the harrowing last moments of a dedicated law enforcement officer’s life; this incident, in turn, sparked a 40-mile pursuit that eventually resulted in the suspect – a known drug dealer, authorities say – eventually dying in a hail of police gunfire.
Officer Darian Jarrott, who was sworn into the force in July 2015, initiated a traffic stop in February on a white Chevrolet pickup on Interstate 10 eastbound, east of Deming, New Mexico, over a window tint violation. Jarrott instructed the driver, Omar Felix Cueva, 39, of Deming, to exit the vehicle.
The dashcam footage shows Cueva exiting the driver’s side hiding an AR-15-style rifle; after walking towards the back of the pickup, Cueva immediately aims and fires a shot at Jarrott, who then falls onto his back. Cueva then runs around the back of the truck and fires several more rounds at Jarrott which struck and killed the officer, including a point-blank shot to the back of the head.
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Cueva then enters his truck and flees the scene, leaving the dead body of Jarrott at the side of the road to be soon discovered by a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agent, who notified dispatch of the shooting.
Authorities say that at the time of the traffic stop, Cueva – a cocaine and meth dealer with a “violent criminal history” – was on his way to Las Cruces for a drug deal. Responding units from the New Mexico State Police, the Cruces Police Department, the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, and U.S. Border Patrol quickly tracked down Cueva on Interstate 10, and the suspect led police on a 40-mile chase while exchanging gunfire with them multiple times.
Eventually, police stopped Cueva’s vehicle after successfully using stop sticks to blow out his tires, followed by a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver. Cueva was then shot multiple times after exiting the truck and opening fire on police; the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officer Adrian De La Garza of the Las Cruces Police Department was struck by gunfire during the shootout, but sustained non-life-threatening injuries; he was airlifted to a local area hospital for treatment.
Officer Jarrott leaves behind three young children and was expecting his fourth child this year.
“Even when there was a situation that was tough, the guy was always smiling,” New Mexico State Police Chief Robert Thornton was quoted as saying about Jarrott in February.