Autopsy rules suicide in police incident; Report found Shayne Romero died from self-inflicted gunshot wound on Feb. 15
Shayne Romero is pictured in a still from a police video. (Toby Martinez Screenshot)
A man involved in a shootout with police in Roswell earlier this year committed suicide, an official autopsy has concluded.
Shayne Romero, 30, of Peralta, also had significant amounts of methamphetamine in his system, the state documents indicate.
Romero died Feb. 15 from a self-inflicted wound to the right side of his head, the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator indicated in its official report, which was completed March 23 and obtained by the Daily Record through a public records request.
“The cause of death is (a) gunshot wound to the head,” the report states. “The autopsy findings and investigative reports of the circumstances surrounding the death indicate the manner of death to be suicide.”
The medical examiners, Dr. Ian Paul and a medical investigator trainee, reported that the head injury was a contact wound with evidence of soot in the surrounding skin and tissues. No bullet from the head injury was found in the body.
Romero also was shot two other times, in the left shoulder and right thigh. Those injuries, termed non-lethal, were concluded to have been caused by shots fired at a distance.
A related report from the state Scientific Laboratory Division shows methamphetamine was found in Romero’s blood, 0.46 milligrams per liter.
Amounts of 0.02 to 0.03 milligrams are considered therapeutic, while amounts as low as 0.09 milligrams per liter are sometimes toxic, according to a North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner website. An academic paper analyzing 11 years of data from 57,903 autopsies in Finland found that the median amount of methamphetamine in 51 drug overdose cases involving the drug was 0.18 milligrams per liter.
Police video and statements by Roswell Police Department officers have indicated that police exchanged gunfire with Romero while he was running from them in the early morning hours that Wednesday in February. Police were at Motel 6 on North Main Street and Berrendo Road at about 2 a.m. regarding a report of a stolen vehicle.
Romero is seen on video, dressed in a security guard’s uniform, talking briefly to a police officer and handing him a pocket knife. He walks away at first, but, as a police officer calls to him, he breaks into a run. Shots are exchanged as police ask repeatedly for him to stop and drop his gun.
Romero is then seen lying on the sidewalk near the street, where police said he shot himself. An emergency response team found him alive, but he was declared deceased a short time later at a Roswell hospital.
Police had wanted to speak with Romero regarding the stolen vehicle. They said he also was wearing a security guard uniform that did not belong to him.
A search of criminal cases in New Mexico found only three prior minor traffic violations for Romero. A Facebook page indicated that he had attended high school in the Whittier, California area around 2003, and had been in the Peralta and Los Lunas areas of New Mexico for several years.
As standard procedure, two police officers were placed on administrative leave after the incident, the officer who fired shots at Romero and the officer who initially found Romero on the sidewalk.
“The officers resumed their duties at the conclusion of the investigation earlier this year,” police spokesman Todd Wildermuth said.