Albuquerque: Man Who Shot Attacker Dead During Statue Protest Goes Free… For Now

Written by Wes Walker on June 19, 2020

When you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.

You have probably heard about the story where some citizens in Albuquerque decided to stand guard over a local statue, to help stem the tide of the cultural purge America has found itself in lately.

No monument, regardless of historical significance or meaning, truly is safe. History’s good guys and bad guys are equally the targets of the iconoclastic mob. Confederate soldiers and pioneering abolitionists alike run afoul of the mob.

Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez criticized the Albuquerque Police Department following the disorder while protesters attempted to topple the statue of Spanish conqueror Juan de Oñate outside the Albuquerque Museum on Monday night. — Newsweek

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In the rioters’ enthusiasm to destroy, people sometimes get hurt.

The mob did what mobs always do — they relied on their anonymity and numbers to act with impunity in ways that they would not dare to act in a one-on-one situation.

Violence broke out when demonstrators attempting to remove the statue known as La Jornada were met with members of armed right-wing militia group the New Mexico Civil Guard.

Steven Baca, 31, is accused of shooting the victim, named as 39-year-old Scott Williams, after clashing with demonstrators and being chased down the street. His attorney said he was attacking in self-defense at the time. —Newsweek

The charges are dropped, but that doesn’t mean this is resolved yet.

Torrez said prosecutors dropped an initial aggravated battery with a deadly weapon charge citing concerns that police failed to interview key witnesses or identify where several weapons such as knives which had been recovered from the scene had come from.

“We believe that fundamentally this is an incomplete police investigation,” he said.

…”Frankly we have been put in a situation too many times in this community where investigations have been rushed, are incomplete, and there is an expectation that quick decisions are made. As professionals and prosecutors who have to uphold an oath to be objective and impartial, we can’t do that. We have to get it right.”

Torrez said Baca could again face the aggravated battery with a deadly weapon charge if the new investigation calls for it.

Following the shooting, several members of the New Mexico Civil Guard could be seen gathering around Baca to protect him from the crowd, but they deny that he is a member of the group.

“They secured the perimeter to help them keep the integrity of the investigation that was going to happen so that no evidence would be destroyed and because the mob was angry and yelling murderer and moving in,” one member of the New Mexico Civil Guard, who did not wish to be armed, told KOB.

“And so we needed to keep them back from the suspect in a possible homicide investigation.” —Newsweek

The key question in this case will be who is deemed the ‘aggressor’.

His accusors will say he pushed one of the group to the ground after repeated physical contact. His defenders will point out that he was walking away, trying to disengage from the group which had hit him in the head with a skateboard, torn his shirt, and (by some reports) had attempted to reach for his firearm.

His lawyer is claiming the incident was one of self-defense.