Police officer stabbed to death moments after arriving on scene – Las Cruces PD

Body Cam Video
CCTV Video

A stark and horrifying example of two things:

  1. The danger posed by knives, even when we are armed with a gun – you CAN bring a knife to a gun fight and win if you’re close enough.
  2. Not all situations involving mental health issues can be de-escalated verbally. Police have often been criticised in the media for shooting within seconds of arriving at the scene – this incident demonstrates the kind of situation which can lead to that happening.

Patrol Officer Jonah Hernandez was stabbed to death while responding to a trespassing call at the 300 block of South Valley Drive in Las Cruces.

A witness to the stabbing shot the suspect while another witness called 911 for help.

Officer Hernandez was transported to MountainView Regional Medical Center where he died from a knife wound to his neck.

The subject had a lengthy criminal record and mental illness.

Officer Hernandez had served with the Las Cruces Police Department for two years. He was survived by his wife and two sons.

Officer Down Memorial Page

Man taken to ground in street fight, brutal armbar follows

According to the source of the video on Reddit, this fight started after the drunken older man had been arguing with a group for about 10 minutes and was given many chances to leave.

The man wearing the ADCC hoodie (Abu Dhabi Combat Club, a prestigious submission grappling tournament) kicked off his footwear shortly before the video starts. Then:

Strikes -> clinch -> takedown -> mount -> armbar -> head stomps from armbar -> mount -> elbows.

Bystanders offered to call an ambulance for the older man following the fight, however he refused and kept saying that a bunch of “homeless guys” had attacked him.

As I’ve explained in a previous post, the standing vs ground debate is a red herring. Sometimes going to the ground is the optimal strategy, sometimes it’s not. In all cases, grappling skills are necessary whether you want to stay standing or not.

Saying “never go to the ground in a street fight” is idiotic, and at best a misguided oversimplification.

In this instance, the man who performed the armbar was not jumped by a group, was not stabbed, there was no glass and AIDS needles and lava on the ground.

It also starkly illustrates the effectiveness of join locks. This is not a submission, he did not wait for his victim to tap. He just destroyed that arm.

None of this is to say that his behaviour was justified, that’s up for you to decide. Where I live, it would be considered excessive and serious charges would follow. Make sure you understand local laws before using force.

The limits of pain compliance

Click image or click here to watch video

Pain compliance is quite literally the use of pain as a method to achieve compliance, and discourage resistance and aggressive behaviour. It’s an integral part of any police use of force continuum policies. However, its effectiveness varies greatly depending on the individual’s pain tolerance, mental state, and the intensity of the situation.

Individuals under the influence of drugs, experiencing a mental health crisis, or in a state of excited delirium might not respond as expected to pain compliance techniques. Adrenaline and other physiological factors can significantly diminish pain perception, leading to less effectiveness in gaining compliance and potentially escalating the situation to more extreme uses of force.

Pain compliance is not a substitute for physical control. It should not be seen as a primary strategy but rather a part of a broader set of tactics aimed at safely controlling and detaining individuals.

It’s crucial for law enforcement to have a clear objective when employing pain compliance and to be prepared to shift tactics if it’s not effective.

Continuous application of pain without gaining control can be perceived as excessive and lead to public scrutiny and distrust. In extreme cases, it can lead to serious injury and death, particularly when the subject is of poor health.

Training, skills, fitness and teamwork are the only answer.

The public’s perception of pain compliance is increasingly critical. With widespread access to information and a growing emphasis on police accountability, the use of force is under more scrutiny than ever. Law enforcement agencies need to ensure their personnel are well-trained in a variety of techniques, understand the implications of their actions, and are capable of making judicious decisions in the heat of the moment.

In conclusion, while pain compliance can be a part of law enforcement’s toolkit, it should be used judiciously and in conjunction with other tactics aimed at safely and efficiently resolving confrontations. Continuous training, public engagement, and a commitment to ethical practices are vital in maintaining public trust and ensuring the safety of both officers and those they serve.

Knives vs guns, why police shoot, and why they don’t “just shoot the legs”

Knives vs guns – click the image to watch

Click the image above to watch my video which explores issues and tactics around facing someone armed with a knife as a police officer.

There are many recorded examples which demonstrate my points, however they can’t be shown on Youtube due to the violent content.

Update – Below is an extremely graphic example of how quickly a situation can escalate, and how an attacker armed with a knife can gain the upper hand at close range.

Officer Jonah Hernandez was fatally stabbed on February 11 while responding to a trespassing call on South Valley Drive. The assailant, 29-year-old Armando Silva, a homeless man with a history of violent crimes and mental illness, was confronted by Hernandez after being reported by property owners for trespassing. The property had issues with homeless individuals and found syringes on site. A bystander intervened and fatally shot Silva, ending the attack. Hernandez, a two-year veteran of the Las Cruces Police Department and originally from El Paso, is survived by his wife and two sons.

Full video with more details on the murder of officer Hernandez

Another poignant example of the lethality of knives:

An incident where multiple police were stabbed despite being armed with guns:

Armed guard in Jerusalem stabbed:

Russian prison guard is stabbed to death and has his gun taken from him:

Argentinian police shoot man in the leg before he closes the distance to kill the police officer with a knife:

Both police officer and suspect get shot in the leg and continue fighting:

Shooting to the legs can also be lethal – photos of the surgery after a police officer was shot in the leg:

Bodycam shows man stab a Dayton, USA, officer in the neck:

The Melbourne terrorist attack

Armed police approached by man and stabbed at Sydney train station:

Man describes what it feels like to be attacked with a sword

Jon shared his experience on Tiktok

In 2004, then-16-year-old Jon Romano walked into his school with a shotgun and shot a teacher who survived. He was stopped by another teacher who restrained him.

After serving a sentence of 15 years, he left prison and advocated for mental health awareness and tried to make amends by giving back to the community and working in a homeless shelter.

On 29 August 2022, he was attacked with a sword by a homeless man at the shelter.

He has shared his experience in the video above, which was originally shared on his Tiktok account here:

https://www.tiktok.com/@jonseekingpeace

The article below covers the incident in more detail.


Jon Romano, convicted in ’04 shooting, was victim in sword attack

Romano, who suffered ‘substantial’ blood loss in Monday’s assault, has sought to help law enforcement by sharing his mental struggles during 2004 shooting incident

Brendan J. LyonsJoshua Solomon

Aug. 30, 2022Updated: Aug. 30, 2022 7:20 p.m.

Jon Romano was the victim of a vicious sword attack at the former St. Casimir's School in Albany's West Hill neighborhood that is now a homeless drop-in center operated by the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless. Romano, who was released from prison two years ago and works at the center, remains in critical condition at Albany Medical Center Hospital. 
1of5Jon Romano was the victim of a vicious sword attack at the former St. Casimir’s School in Albany’s West Hill neighborhood that is now a homeless drop-in center operated by the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless. Romano, who was released from prison two years ago and works at the center, remains in critical condition at Albany Medical Center Hospital. Tom Brenner/Special to the Times Union
A nervous Jon Romano, right, stands with his defense attorney E. Stewart Jones(l) during his plea bargain hearing in Judge McGrath's Court in the Rensselaer County Courthouse on Nov. 22, 2004, in Troy, N.Y. Next month he will receive a sentence of up to 20 years in jail for his actions at Columbia High School earlier this year. 

ALBANY — Jon W. Romano, who has sought redemption for firing a shotgun at students and teachers inside Columbia High School as a teenager in 2004, was the victim in Monday’s vicious attack at a homeless center on Sheridan Avenue in which a man wielding a sword attacked Romano and caused critical injuries to his arms and leg, according to police and court records as well as law enforcement sources.

Romano, 34, remained in critical condition Tuesday at Albany Medical Center Hospital after undergoing surgery in the hours after the attack. A police report indicates Romano’s injuries resulted in a “substantial amount of blood loss” and that responding police officers needed to apply tourniquets above his wounds to stem further bleeding.

The suspect, 42-year-old Randell D. Mason of Albany, was charged with attempted second-degree murder. He was arraigned in Albany City Court on Tuesday morning and sent to Albany County jail without bail. A prosecutor told the judge that Romano remained intubated and that doctors had “reattached” his arms and lower leg but remained concerned about the condition of his leg. He also was struck in the head, according to a police report.

Kristen Giroux, deputy director of Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless, which operates the Sheridan Avenue shelter — called the Community Connections Drop-In Center — told the Times Union on Monday the organization was “bringing in a trauma response team to support our staff and the other guests who were witnesses to this horrific event.”

“It did start with an argument and ended with (Mason) attacking our employee,” Giroux had said. Romano “works throughout the building, manages our clothing pantry and also helps out wherever he’s needed.”

She said the suspect had “used our center previously” and was known to the staff.

According to police reports, Mason allegedly stated, “Yep, I chopped him up — he was disrespecting me.” The report says Mason made that statement “multiple times” while in police custody. Another report, which indicates there is also police body-cam footage, said Mason remarked, “He’s down there all chopped up, said I was racist.”

William Hartl, a former employee of Community Connections said that Romano had worked in the clothing pantry there and was open about his struggles with mental health and had devoted himself to raising awareness on the issues that led to his troubles as a teenager. He said “Romano worked a position in an organization that provides a relatively overlooked service, ensuring that a demographic who has been largely abandoned by the rest of society has the resources they need.”

Hartl said that he left his job at the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless last year to attend graduate school but returned to visit staff who informed him that Romano had embraced his work for the center and was flourishing in the position.

“You’re dealing with many people who have severe mental health problems with very little resources,” Hartl said. “The staff at IPH show up everyday, potentially putting themselves in danger because they care about the community, most of whom are thankful for the services. John paid a very high price for helping those that have fallen through the cracks and deserves to be viewed as a hero for his sacrifice.”

He added that the guests who come there for services also “are just like everyone else, they have their own struggles to face. Even his attacker needs empathy and compassion because to experience homelessness and poverty … it’s an incredibly difficult and damaging way to live.”

Earlier this year, Romano spoke to law enforcement officials during an event at the Saratoga Casino and Hotel, where he told the audience about the importance of looking out for signs that students are in trouble.

“If we can have them opening up and getting rid of any toxicity that might be building up in them, then hopefully nobody will even come close to doing anything that I have done,” Romano had said, according to a report by NewsChannel 13.

The Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office hosted the three-day conference on school safety, where Romano was a featured speaker.

He was released in late 2020 after spending more than 15 years in prison for attempted murder and other charges connected to the February 2004 shooting at the suburban high school in East Greenbush.

In 2018, Romano wrote a letter to the Times Union in response to a column by Chris Churchill which featured an interview with retired Columbia principal John Sawchuk, who had tackled and disarmed the 16-year-old after Romano had fired the pump-action shotgun twice, missing students but wounding a teacher.

“John Sawchuk is a hero who I owe my life to,” Romano wrote in the letter he sent from Coxsackie Correctional Facility in Greene County. “I know whenever another horrible shooting happens, he and all of my victims are hurt all over again from what I did to them. I want to take away their pain but knowing that I cannot, I want to prevent others from experiencing this pain.”

Romano, who was sentenced to a 17- to 20-year prison term, moved to Albany County after his release.

A parole panel noted that Romano had a low chance of returning to prison and a “positive relationship” with his family.

There was no information disclosed during Tuesday’s arraignment in City Court that indicated Mason suffers any mental health disorders. But Giroux, the deputy director of the Interfaith Center, had said, “We, locally and beyond, have a real mental health crisis that we need to deal with. As an agency it’s been our mission to support people who have been turned away by many other programs and agencies who have no place else to go, and that’s what this center is all about.”

The shelter has been open at that location since 2019, but Interfaith’s drop-in center program has been active for 16 years. The center, which broke ground in 2017 as a $5 million project, also provides apartments for formerly homeless individuals. The center provides food, access to showers and laundry facilities, and other services.