Las Cruces, NM – The widow of a New Mexico State Police (NMSP) officer who was gunned down by a suspect during a traffic stop in February is suing the State of New Mexico and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for allegedly sending her husband into a high-risk situation with no background information or backup officers (video below).
The NMSP recently released video footage that captured the moment when the suspect, 39-year-old Omar Felix Cueva, fatally shot NMSP Officer Darian Jarrott in the head during a traffic stop.
Police said the gunman had a “violent criminal history,” as well as charges involving methamphetamine and cocaine, FOX News reported.
The attack occurred at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 4, as NMSP Officer Jarrott was assisting U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the NMSP said in a press release.
According to a tort notice sent to the state this week by an attorney for Officer Jarrott’s widow, Gabriella Jarrott, the HSI failed to provide her husband with the information they had on Cueva when they asked him to pull him over that day, KFOX reported.
“Homeland Security agents asked Officer Jarrott to pull over a car, when they knew the occupant of the vehicle was a known violent felon with semi-automatic weapons and large amount of drugs inside the vehicle,” Jarrott’s attorney, Sam Bregman, said in the notice. “They did so without telling Officer Jarrott of any of this.”
Officer Jarrott, 28, initiated a traffic stop on a white Chevrolet pickup truck near mile marker 101 on Interstate 10 eastbound, according to police.
Bodycam and dashcam footage showed the officer as he approached the passenger side of Cueva’s pickup and introduced himself.
During the cordial conversation, Officer Jarrott explained he had stopped Cueva for a window tint violation, the video showed.
After chatting about his registration and insurance for a moment, the officer asked the driver to come back to his patrol vehicle with him so he could run his information.
“Hey real quick – you have a firearm on you?” Officer Jarrott asked Cueva as the suspect opened the driver’s side door. “You mind if I take it off you for my safety?”
Cueva seemed to agree and exited his pickup with a rifle in his hands, the video showed.
He then immediately turned and opened fire on Officer Jarrott over the bed of the pickup truck.
“Oh s—t!” the officer said, raising his hands to his head.
Cueva fired approximately 10 rounds at Officer Jarrott, hitting him repeatedly.
When the officer fell to the ground, the shooter fired one more round into the back of his head at point-blank range, FOX News reported.
Cueva then jumped back into his pickup and sped off, leaving Officer Jarrott in the ditch on the side of the interstate, the video showed.
A moment later, an HSI agent pulled up and found the murdered officer, the NMSP said in the press release.
After other NMSP officers spotted Cueva’s vehicle near mile marker 116, the suspect pulled over and opened fire on them, according to the press release.
The officers returned fire just before the suspect led them on a pursuit down Interstate 10.
As the chase closed in on mile marker 135 near Las Cruces, NMSP successfully used tire-deflating devices on Cueva’s vehicle.
The gunman continued his attempted escape as law enforcement officers from the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO), the U.S. Border Patrol, (USBP), and the Las Cruces Police Department (LCPD) joined the pursuit, police said.
An LCPD officer stopped the fleeing pickup near mile marker 140 using a pursuit intervention technique (PIT) maneuver, at which point Cueva came barreling out of the truck while shooting at the swarm of law enforcement officers in the vicinity.
Bystander cell phone footage showed the gunman as he ran up to the front of a Las Cruces patrol car with a gun pointed at the vehicle.
A barrage of gunfire erupted as the suspect and the officers opened fire on one another.
“He straight shot at that cop!” a bystander said in the video after Cueva fell to the ground and police closed in on him.
The gunman died from his wounds at the scene, according to police.
Dona Ana County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Roxanne Garcia-McElmell later said Cueva was wearing a ballistic vest, The New York Times reported.
Las Cruces Police Officer Adrian De La Garza was airlifted to a trauma hospital after being hit by gunfire during the incident, according to FOX News.
He was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
“There was no reason for Officer Jarrott to out in the middle of nowhere to stop a known, violent criminal who had guns and drugs in the vehicle with no back up,” Bregman said in the notice, according to KFOX. “You don’t just stop people like this who are known violent criminals with no help and they didn’t tell him any of this, they just told him to stop the vehicle.”
The tort notice is the first step in filing a wrongful death lawsuit, according to KFOX.
Officer Jarrott worked as a transportation inspector for the New Mexico Department of Public Safety (NMDPS) before becoming a certified law enforcement officer for the agency in December of 2014, FOX News reported.
He was sworn in as a NMSP officer in July of 2015.
Officer Jarrott’s wife was pregnant at the time of his murder, according to his department.
He is also survived by his three young children.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content and Obscene Language: