LAS CRUCES, N.M. – A knife-wielding shoplifting suspect in New Mexico accused of trying to steal a vehicle after stabbing store employees may have lost his eyesight because of injuries suffered when police fired bean-bag rounds 15 times and stun guns 23 times to subdue him, authorities say.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reported that Police Chief Patrick Gallagher said during a Friday news conference that a multi-agency task force will investigate the March 23 incident involving 31-year-old Joshua James LeNoir.
Police released a 17-second police video clip showing projectiles being fired at a man who stood up, turned away from officers and walked away.
Gallagher said the thief repeatedly ignored officers' commands to drop his knife during the encounter with police in a Mesilla Valley Mall parking lot.
"The Tasers were used so frequently and so often that some of the batteries drained on the Tasers," Gallagher said.
The police chief said the final bean-bag round fired before LeNoir was subdued hit him in the face and may have blinded him. "Unofficial understanding is that he lost his eyesight as a result."
Before officers arrived, several employees of two different stores tried to stop LeNoir, police said.
A store security officer was punched in the face and torso and two other employees suffered minor stab wounds, police said.
The thief then tried but failed to steal a family's SUV, police said.
A police spokesman, Dan Trujillo, said LeNoir is at a rehabilitation facility after being released from a hospital.
Charges against LeNoir include aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon, attempted theft of a vehicle, misdemeanor counts of battery, criminal damage to property and resisting, evading or obstructing an officer.
Court records don't list a defense attorney for LeNoir who could comment on the allegations.