On Monday, the jury saw police helicopter video from the night Andrew Romero was arrested. Romero is on trial for murdering Rio Rancho Police Officer Gregg “Nigel” Benner last year.
Despite the same video, both sides argued they see something different.
The state called two Albuquerque police officers to the stand, including Nicholas Pearson. Pearson was operating APD’s helicopter camera the night they were looking for Romero.
The helicopter followed Romero in his getaway car to a gas station. Pearson said he saw something thrown from the vehicle before it finally came to a stop.
“You will see what appears to be a white dot come out of the vehicle,” said Pearson, as he explained the chopper’s thermal imaging camera. Pearson said he didn’t know what that dot was at the time, but that he asked officers to check it out once Romero was in handcuffs.
Albuquerque police Detective Kevin Sanchez says he found a black handgun.
“I went into the Valero and obtained an orange pylon cone and placed it next to the firearm,” he told jurors.
However, Romero’s defense attorneys were quick to discredit the video and the officers’ testimonies.
During cross-examination, defense attorney Cindy Leos asked, “You never saw the gun being thrown from the vehicle, correct?”
“Correct,” said Sanchez.
Another defense attorney Tom Clark then claimed the white dot could have been something else.
“A cigarette, that would be a heat source right?” he said.
“Yes, sir,” said Pearson.
Romero’s attorneys have also tried to shift the blame to Romero’s ex-girlfriend who was also in the car during the shooting. Tabitha Littles was initially also charged with murder, but took a plea deal in exchange for testifying against Romero.
Last week, Littles told the jury she and Romero were high on meth and in the middle of a crime spree when Benner pulled them over. She said Romero made it clear he was willing to shoot officers instead of go back to prison.
Court resumes Tuesday morning.