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Update: Sheriff shoots dog during Farmington traffic incident; suspect arrested

San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari shoots aggressive dog after traffic incident. (KOAT.com video)
Farmington police release video; suspect is arrested Wednesday

The San Juan County District Attorney’s Office is investigating a case in which Sheriff Shane Ferrari shot a driver’s dog during a traffic incident Feb. 17 in Farmington.

Farmington Police Department’s original Facebook post on Tuesday stated that FPD was “investigating the incident involving Sheriff Ferrari and a suspect for reckless driving and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on Feb. 17, 2023.”

A video released by FPD shows a gray car pull into a parking lot at La Plata Drive and Padilla Drive, followed by Ferrari in his personal vehicle. The video shows the driver exiting his vehicle wielding a pipe and the sheriff responding by holding his firearm at the ready. A dog exits the vehicle as well and appears aggressive when it is shot by the Ferrari.

The suspect, Jamie Nino, 42, was arrested Wednesday evening. He faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, reckless driving, passing in a no-passing zone (two counts) and running a red light, according to FPD.

In a long Facebook post Wednesday under the name “Shane Ferrari For Sheriff,” Ferrari expressed his version of events, his love of animals and the fact that he expressed condolences to Nino for the loss of his dog. He said he was threatened and responded, as any citizen has a right to do.

He further explained that after 26 years in law enforcement “chasing and following cars trying to ditch me, I know the value of providing good information to assisting units.”

The affidavit by Farmington Police Detective Chris Stanton stated that Ferrari was driving his Ford F-15, on West 20th Street and had just turned south onto Municipal Drive. He said he noticed Nino’s vehicle behind him and stated Nino passed him traveling south on Municipal Drive on the curve on a double-yellow line, a no-passing zone.

Ferrari indicated Nino passed him by crossing the double-yellow line and traveled south on Municipal Drive in the inside northbound lane. Ferrari indicated in a later interview that there was another vehicle traveling north on Municipal Drive at the time Nino passed him.

Ferrari said Nino continued to drive south past the Farmington Police Department and passed another vehicle in a no-passing zone near the 700 block of Airport Drive. Ferrari said he then observed Nino run the stop light at the intersection of Airport Drive and Apache Street and continue south on Airport.

Ferrari said he was worried the driver might have been intoxicated and followed him from a distance. He said Nino turned east onto Arrington Avenue from Airport Drive and then turned into the parking lot of Arrington Plaza at 737 W. Arrington Ave.

Ferrari said as he approached the plaza, he noticed Nino's vehicle was stopped in the parking lot and he was sitting inside his car. Suspecting Nino might be intoxicated, Ferrari said he decided to stop and contact him.

As he exited his truck, Ferrari said Nino jumped out of his car with one arm behind his back approaching him and screaming, “Get the (expletive deleted) away from me.”

When he said that Nino carried a metal pipe in the hand behind his back, he pulled out his firearm, pointed it at Nino, and told him, “Get back! Get back! I'm the sheriff!”

Ferrari told police that Nino raised the pipe and began to charge him as he commanded him to drop the pipe and get on the ground. At the same time, Nino's dog exited the car and ran toward him.

Ferrari shot the dog, and again told Nino to get on the ground. Nino retreated, dropped the pipe and lay on the ground until Farmington police officers arrived.

Police Sgt. J. Anaya and Sgt. J. Thornburg arrived on scene and detained Nino, placing him in the back seat of Thornburg's patrol vehicle, according to the affidavit.

The brown-and-white dog lay dead on the ground with gunshot wounds to its torso. Nino's car, a 1995 Ford Crown Victoria with Texas license plate RPG 1410, was in the middle of the parking lot.

According to the police affidavit, Nino told police he realized Ferrari was a law enforcement officer only after Ferrari identified himself in the parking lot. Until that time, he said, he wanted Ferrari to stop following him.

Nino said he was heading to Cottonwood Clinic as part of some required hours for a college class.

According to the warrant affidavit, he admitted passing Ferrari's vehicle on Municipal Drive and running the red light at Apache Street and Airport Drive because he was in a hurry to get to his destination. Nino said he pulled into the parking lot at 737 W. Arrington Ave. because he planned to confront Ferrari there.

“When he pulls up in here, as soon as he gets here, I’m like, man, I got to wait till he understands that I’m not (expletive deleted) around, he needs to (expletive deleted) leave me alone,” Nino told police.

Nino said he accidentally left his car door open during the encounter, which allowed his dog to exit the vehicle and run toward Ferrari. Nino said he began following Ferrari's orders after his dog was shot.

The scene was processed by the Farmington Police Department CSI Unit. Three fired shell casings were recovered from the scene, along with one fired projectile that was located beneath the dog. A large metal pipe approximately 2 feet in length and 1½ inches in diameter was found just north of the vehicle. The pipe was consistent with a handle from a car jack. The pipe, casings and fired projectile were entered into evidence at the Farmington Police Station.

When first contacted by The Durango Herald, Ferrari responded by email, saying he was awaiting the criminal investigation before making an official statement.

Nonetheless, Ferrari defended his actions as a sheriff.

“There has been some online debate as to the sheriff being ‘off-duty.’ I’ve attempted to educate those who have this concern with New Mexico state statute regarding the role of the sheriff,” Ferrari said in his email.

He quoted New Mexico Statute 4-41-10, Right to carry arms; deputies; appointment, (2006):

“All sheriffs shall at all times be considered as in the discharge of their duties and be allowed to carry arms on their persons.”