A recent standoff in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has resulted in the death of a young Black teen, forever changing a family’s life and leaving the community with unanswered questions.
The incident unfolded on Wednesday evening after the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) tracked down Qiaunt Kelley, a 27-year-old man who was wanted on at least two warrants.
APD officers had located Kelley earlier that day and followed him to a residence owned by Sundra Coleman, the Albuquerque Journal reports.
In a statement to the publication, Coleman’s sister, Elizabeth Fields, said Kelley and another person were visiting Coleman’s son when authorities barged in and ordered everyone out of the home.
However, Kelley and the person accompanying him proceeded to reenter the house, initiating a standoff that lasted several hours.
“Then [the authorities] start pulling off the windows, they started removing the doors, they had a machine that ripped up the tree, and so then they started throwing gas bombs in there,” Fields told the Albuquerque Journal, noting that “the whole house went up in flames.”
“The goal is to make it uncomfortable for the subject and propel the subject to come out … peacefully,” APD Sergeant Michael Jones said of the projectiles, which included tear gas and noise flash divisionary devices, per the Albuquerque Journal.
A fire allegedly broke out over an hour after these projectiles were thrown into the residence.
As the fire was being extinguished from outside, Kelley ultimately exited the home and was taken into custody at around 3 a.m., according to NBC.
Upon entering the residence shortly thereafter, firefighters discovered the dead body of a juvenile male. He was later identified as 15-year-old Brett Rosenau, and he died as a result of smoke inhalation.
A Black 15-year-old was killed in Albuquerque during a SWAT raid targeting someone else.
Brett Rosenau died from smoke inhalation in a fire, police claim.
Police shot a noise flash device, which have been known to ignite, into the home but did not state the cause of the fire. pic.twitter.com/XGHjHR4Zac
— AJ+ (@ajplus) July 11, 2022
The public immediately began speaking out against the police, and a number of protests began springing up in the Albuquerque area.
In response to the situation, the APD released a Twitter statement that explained officers’ weapons were not fired during the incident, adding that “both individuals were given opportunities to safely exit the house.”
The APD’s tweet also acknowledged that the projectiles they threw into the house “may have contributed to the fire.”
We disclosed the devices used to get the occupants to exit the home. We have used them hundreds of times w/out incident. We acknowledge the possibility that one of these devices may have contributed to the fire. AFR’s arson investigation will determine the cause of the fire.
— APD Public Information Officer (@APD_PIO) July 10, 2022
Further investigation into the situation is currently underway.
“If any of our actions inadvertently contributed to his death, we will take steps to ensure this never happens again,” Harold Medina, chief of the APD, said, per NBC.