- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 4, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Two Albuquerque police officers who shot and killed an armed man suspected of kidnapping a woman and leading police on a high-speed chase are veterans of the force, police said Tuesday.

Cornel Heitzman and Carlos Hernandez were identified as the officers who fatally shot 33-year-old Rafael Molina Jr. on Friday as Molina tried to flee his disabled vehicle.

Initial evidence showed Molina pointed a gun at an officer before Heitzman and Hernandez opened fire, police said.

No details were released on how many rounds were fired and how many times Molina was hit. He died at the scene.

A listing for a family member for Molina could not be located.

It was the first fatal shooting by Albuquerque police since the department agreed in June to use of force reforms demanded by federal officials. The department had been under scrutiny for more than 40 police shootings since 2010.

Police said the chase on Friday began after reports were received about a man forcing a woman into a black SUV as she screamed for help. She later jumped out of the moving vehicle, police said.

After a six-minute chase, officers were able to disable his vehicle and Molina jumped out with a gun in his hand, police said.

A .22-caliber semi-automatic handgun was recovered next to Molina, police said.

Records show Heitzman retired from the department as a sergeant before being re-hired in 2009. Hernandez has been with the department since January 2007.

Both officers have been placed on administrative leave as the shooting is investigated.

Molina was previously arrested in May for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to police.


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