Body Cam Shows Man Fatally Shot by Police Answering Call for Welfare Check

An Albuquerque man was fatally shot after he allegedly threatened police with a shovel.
The man hadn't been heard from in days, a relative told police. Albuquerque Police Department

While Albuquerque police were performing a welfare check on a man they learned was wanted on a felony charge.

Recently released body cam footage shows the fatal shooting of a man after officers arrived to perform a welfare check. Valente Acosta-Bustillos, 52, is seen in the footage speaking in Spanish with two Albuquerque Police Department officers on March 30. Standing outside his home, the man is holding a shovel and appeared to be doing yard work when the cops arrived.

The situation escalated after the officers learned Acosta-Bustillos was wanted on a felony warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and had failed to make a court hearing, authorities said. The officers had previously dealt with the man, who has a history of drug use and fighting with his neighbors, the department said. 

The man ran inside, and threatened the policemen with his shovel, authorities said. He was tased, but failed to comply with orders to stay down, police said. Officer Edgar Sandoval opened fire, striking him three times, police said. The man was pronounced dead at a local hospital. 

“The call changed from a welfare check to a felony arrest, which the officers were obligated to enforce,” Lt. Scott Norris of APD’s violent crimes section said during a televised media briefing last week.

In a statement to Tuesday, the department said, "The primary officer reported that Valente raised the shovel toward him while closing distance, causing him to fear being struck with the blade of the shovel. The primary officer reported he discharged his handgun five times."

The man's family had asked for the welfare check because he failed to report to work and wasn't answering his phone. They have retained an attorney and say they plan to sue the department.

“My client calls in to ask for a welfare check to make sure everything is OK,” lawyer Mark Caruso told the Albuquerque Journal. "She calls APD to check on her father, and it ends up APD is the cause of his death.” 

The department has not publicly commented on Caruso's statements.