Juan Ramirez’s last clash with the police
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – He’s been in trouble with the law time and time again. Juan Ramirez has pleaded guilty to stealing a truck police suspect he was driving when an Albuquerque teenager was killed in a hit and run.
Now KRQE News 13 has obtained police video showing Juan Ramirez’s latest clash with officers. The video shows Ramirez walking away from an officer in an attempt to stop traffic and causing an accident.
On May 10, just after 3 p.m. near Carlisle and Candelaria, a New Mexico State Police officer ran the plates of a white Hyundai. The plates did not match the car. The officer turned on his lights and sirens, but the driver, later identified as Juan Ramirez, 32, doesn’t stop. A slow chase continued through a neighborhood before Ramirez decided to run the engine.
The video shows Ramirez rushing over Carlisle. The officer canceled the chase due to safety concerns on a busy road. However, moments later, the officer crashed. Ramirez had crashed into a truck turning on Carlisle.
At this point, Ramirez gave up. “Keep coming! Lay on the floor!” The officer ordered Ramirez to back down.
In this accident, no one was killed. “Why did you guys run?” The officer asked. “I don’t know,” Ramirez’s passenger replied.
Ramirez’s passenger was injured. “His bone is out,” he said, “your passenger,” the officer told Ramirez.
The officer would learn that Ramirez is on probation. It has a long criminal history spanning nearly a decade involving drugs, police chases, break-ins and auto thefts. In July 2019, Albuquerque police said he stole a truck from the Drury Inn.
The night guards tried to stop this stolen truck, the truck did not stop. Albuquerque police officers said they called off the chase after the driver fled.
“I glanced at it and all of a sudden I just see this truck spinning,” a witness told police on the night of the July crash. “After that, I didn’t see anything. Just his shoes on the floor.
Manny Tapia was 15 when he was punched and killed on his way home from Cottonwood Mall that night. Tapia’s mother, Dionne Harding, experiences the aftermath.
“He worked at the mall, he went to Cibola High School, and we lived a few blocks away, so he walked that road a few times that summer,” Harding said.
The driver who killed his son fled. And because the police were never able to prove who was behind the wheel when Tapia was killed, Ramirez never faced charges for Tapia’s death.
“I believe this person is a habitual criminal,” Harding said of Ramirez. Ramirez was given a plea deal and sentenced to two years in prison for the stolen truck. After serving his sentence, he was released in December.
Then, in April, court documents show Ramirez violated probation. Records show he tested positive for methamphetamine and admitted to using heroin to his probation officer.
However, he was not returned to jail for a probation violation. It wasn’t until the accident a few weeks ago that Ramirez returned to custody.
“What criminal in this town can actually get away with it multiple times, multiple times,” Harding said. “It’s systematic and he’s not the only one.”
Ramirez also took a hiatus a few years ago after being arrested for robbing an elderly woman’s home in Placitas. The Sandoval County District Attorney’s Office dropped the charges after the victim died last year.
The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office told KRQE News 13 that they are considering revoking Ramirez’s probation. He is currently in state custody and a hearing is scheduled for next month. The district attorney’s office emailed KRQE News 13 the following on Wednesday:
“Juan Ramirez was transferred from the Metropolitan Detention Center to the State Department of Corrections on May 17. He has not been made public and will remain in custody until his parole violation hearing and his probation violation hearing. The probation violation hearing takes place on June 9, and at the hearing, the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office intends to present evidence to support the revocation of his probation. The Department of Corrections will be able to provide more information on the parole violation process. There is no new information regarding the 2019 incident as it is still an ongoing investigation.
Lauren Rodriguez, Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office
Tapia’s family have filed a wrongful death complaint against Albuquerque police, saying officers failed to follow procedure in chasing the truck the night the teenager was killed. An APD spokesperson sent KRQE News 13 the following statement on Wednesday:
Due to an ongoing dispute, we are unable to discuss the details of the investigation. We are still actively investigating the hit and run. We haven’t found the stolen truck, but if we did find it, it would certainly be valuable evidence.
Rebecca Atkins, APD Communications Specialist