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State v. Mantelli

New Mexico Court of Appeals
42 P.3d 272 (2002)


Joseph Mantelli (defendant), a Las Vegas, New Mexico, police officer, and his partner Steve Marquez, pursued a truck driven by Abelino Montoya, an 18-year-old high school student, and Gabriel Rubio who was a passenger. At one point, the police car and Montoya’s truck collided in an intersection. Mantelli ran to the driver’s side window and broke it with the butt of his handgun. At the same time, Montoya turned the truck and began driving away. As the truck headed down a street, Mantelli fired several shots from his handgun, two struck Montoya killing him. Mantelli was charged with voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and shooting a motor vehicle resulting in injury. At trial, Mantelli argued that he fired his weapon because he felt the truck was being used as a deadly weapon and he feared for his and Marquez’ lives. The prosecution claimed that Mantelli shot his weapon to prevent Montoya from escaping. Mantelli’s roommate, a fellow LVPD police officer, testified that Mantelli told him that he had shot the truck because it was about to get away. Additionally, Mantelli testified that he positioned the police car to try to “block in” the truck so that it could not escape. Mantelli conceded that he knew that a departmental policy required an officer not to use his patrol car as a roadblock without ensuring the pursued vehicle had a way out of the roadblock. Mantelli was convicted on all counts and he appealed.

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