By Anand Vasu
The April 9 release of lapel video and dash cam footage has shed fresh light on the fatal shooting of Darian Jarrott, a New Mexico State Police Officer in February 2021.
Jarrott was shot and killed in the line of duty. In 2021, he was one of 15 officers killed by gunfire, in the line of duty, while four others died of assault, two by stabbing, and seven by vehicular assault.
In all, a total of 91 officers lost their lives in the line of duty between January 1 and March 31.
On Friday, April 11, Sgt. Jim Smith, an Iowa State Patrol Trooper, was shot and killed when he tried to enter the home of a man who had assaulted another police officer earlier.
Michael Lang, who was charged with murder over the death of Sgt. Smith, is being held on $1M cash bond.
In the New Mexico incident, Jarrott initiated a traffic stop on a white Chevrolet pickup on Interstate 10 eastbound, near mile marker 102 east of Deming, New Mexico.
During the stop, Jarrott asked the occupant of the vehicle, Omar Felix Cueva, to exit the vehicle. As he did so and walked towards the back of the vehicle Cueva fired one shot at Jarrot using an AR-15 rifle.
Officer Jarrott ducked and fell on his back and Cueva than fired several rounds at him. As he moved to the front of the truck Cueva shot Jarrott point blank in the back of the head, killing him.
A Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agent arrived on scene and notified New Mexico State Police dispatch that an officer was down.
Cueva’s vehicle was next flagged traveling east on Interstate 10 near mile marker 116. Here, Cueva pulled over and fired at two officers and evaded capture even as officers returned fire.
At this point, the Las Cruces Police Department, the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, and U.S. Border Patrol joined New Mexico State Police in their pursuit of Cueva.
Near the Picacho exit on Interstate 10, (near mile marker 135), NMSP officers successfully utilized tire deflation devices on Cueva’s pickup, but he continued to flee, even as officers engaged him with gunfire.
Near mile marker 140 LCPD Officer Adrian De La Garza utilized a Pursuit Intervention Technique but before the vehicle came to a stop, Cueva exited, with a firearm, and shot at multiple rounds in the direction of officers and deputies.
Three officers returned fire and Cueva was struck multiple times. In the process, Officer De La Garza was struck by gunfire and had to be airlifted to a trauma hospital in Texas where he was treated and later released for non-life-threatening injuries.
Officers rendered aid to Cueva until emergency medical personnel arrived on scene. Cueva sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased on scene by the Office of Medical Investigator.
“We appreciate the public’s support during this difficult time,” said Robert Thornton Chief of the New Mexico State Police. “We will honor Officer Jarrott’s sacrifice by continuing to serve and protect the citizens of New Mexico.”
Officer Jarrott began his career as a Transportation Inspector with NMDPS. He was certified as a law enforcement officer in December of 2014 and worked with the former Motor Transportation Division of NMDPS. In July of 2015, he was sworn in as a New Mexico State Police officer where he served until the day of the shooting. Officer Jarrott leaves behind 3 small children and was expecting his fourth child this year.
The incident occurred on Feb. 4, and officer Jarrott was laid to rest on Feb. 12.