The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Police identify officer in shooting

Officer Jesus Sarabia discharged weapon during July 6 standoff


July 28, 2019

CLOVIS — The New Mexico State Police on Thursday identified the police officer who discharged a weapon during a July 6 standoff.

Officer Jesus Sarabia has been with the Clovis Police Department for three years. Sarabia was back on full duty June 10 after spending three days on administrative duty.

He discharged his weapon, officials said, in response to Damon Smith, 42, brandishing a weapon during a two-hour standoff that began around 5 p.m. July 6. Police were called to a report of a domestic disturbance with shots fired on the 2700 block of Wallace Street.

Smith was released last week on a $5,000 appearance bond. He faces charges of aggravated assault upon a peace officer with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault upon a household member with a deadly weapon, contempt of court and resisting, evading or obstructing an officer.

In an interview with NMSP investigators, Smith “stated the rifle did fire one round into the floor of the living room” and that he “Smith eventually stated he intended on using the rifle on himself.”

Smith’s wife told investigators he fired that gunshot while she was in the restroom of the house and that he “was testing the firearm.” Smith told NMSP officer Justin Tiemann and Chester Bobbitt that he was carrying a “.22 bolt action rifle” and “did stand in the hallway leading out to the front door with the rifle down by his hip.”

Clovis Police Sgt. Travis Loomis told NMSP investigators that during the ensuing police response “he did hear Mr. Smith say if officers came into his house, he wanted suicide by cop,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Attorney C. Barry Crutchfield, listed in court records as representing Smith, did not return a message last week from The News.

CPD Capt. Roman Romero did not respond last week to a request for interviews with the department and/or Sarabia regarding the incident.

According to Thursday’s release and previous releases from the NMSP:

n Five officers were initially on scene, with Smith and a 39-year-old female inside the residence. The initial call to dispatch came from an anonymous caller who reported the two arguing and heard a gunshot.

n Clovis officers gave Smith verbal commands from an open front doorway to exit the room. They said they heard what sounded like a pump shotgun being loaded.

n Smith brandished a rifle towards the officers, and Sarabia discharged his department-issued weapon. Smith was not struck or injured.

n Following the shot, officers fell back until SWAT arrived. A team negotiated with Smith, and eventually used a Taser to take him into custody. He was treated on scene by emergency personnel, then taken to the Curry County Adult Detention Center.

n A 12-gauge pump shotgun, which investigators believed to be the weapon Smith pointed at officers, was located along with several other weapons.


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