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January 9, 2018

Man Brandishing Vape Device Killed by Police

A man shot and killed last month by police in New Mexico was holding a vape mod that was mistaken for a weapon, according to police.

The man, 35-year-old Frankie Anchondo, was killed Dec. 20, according to KOB-TV in Farmington, NM. He had been involved in a high-speed chase with a Farmington Police Department officer.

According to the New Mexico State Police — who investigated the shooting — a Farmington PD officer observed a woman screaming from Anchondo’s truck as it passed an intersection. The officer attempted to pull the vehicle over, but Anchondo refused to stop and weaved through traffic to avoid the police.

When he kept approaching, the officer fired at him five times and killed him.

Anchondo then turned onto an unlit road, turned off his lights, and slowed down. The woman, still screaming, “either fell or jumped out of the passenger side” of the truck, then Anchondo got out of the vehicle and approached the police car.

Anchondo walked toward the police officer, according to NM State Police investigator Ray Wilson, “with a dark object in both hands,” pointing it “as if it were a gun.” The officer ordered Anchondo to stop. When he kept approaching, the officer fired at him five times and killed him.

It turned out that the object in Anchondo’s hands was a vaping device, described by investigators only as an electronic cigarette.

The woman later told police Anchondo had threatened to kill her. The officer who shot Anchondo was a six-year Farmington PD veteran. The state police investigators have turned the case over to the 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

We reported on a similar story in 2016. That police shooting occurred in El Cajon, CA. The victim also apparently held his vape mod as though it were a firearm and aimed at the police.

Smokers created vaping without any help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and vapers have the right to keep innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I recently joined the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy
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