An investigation by the Department of Public Safety has found a Greenlee County deputy and a Clifton policeman were justified in the January shooting death of a Morenci man.
“Because Christopher Roy Ingram unlawfully fired upon (Greenlee County) Deputy (John) Mennen and (Clifton Police) Sgt. (Jason) Mingura without any provocation or cause whatsoever, and because he made the premeditated decision to unlawfully attempt to take the lives of these officers, Deputy Mennen and Sgt. Mingura were legally justified in using deadly physical force against Ingram, which resulted in his death,” said Greenlee County Attorney Derek Rapier. “As such, no criminal charges will be filed against Deputy John Mennen or Sgt. Jason Mingura as a result of the events involving Christopher Ray Ingram at approximately midnight on January 26/27, 2015.”
Ingram, 29, was killed during a Jan. 26 shootout with Mennen and Mingura. Both Mennen and Mingura were wounded in the incident.
According to the report, the situation began shortly before midnight, when the two officers responded to two calls of domestic violence incidents.
Ingram had reportedly confronted his estranged wife, verbally fighting with the woman and damaging the woman’s vehicle.
Mennen and Mingura were working traffic near the former Clifton Schools campus, the only officers on duty in the Clifton-Morenci area for their respective agencies that night, when they received the calls.
The officers stopped Ingram’s truck on U.S. 191 in Morenci, near the Site 2 road. As he approached the vehicle, Mennen activated his body-worn camera, audio-video recording the encounter.
Mennen instructed Ingram to show his hands, and Mennen reported hearing the distinct sound of metal on metal contact, saying it sounded like a magazine in a handgun. When Ingram dropped his hands on his lap, Mennen began to open the truck door and back away.
That’s when Ingram, remaining in a sitting position behind the steering wheel, reportedly turned, aimed a handgun at Mennen’s torso and fired at point-blank range, striking Mennen in the lower left abdomen, which was protected by the deputy’s ballistic body armor.
Mennen turned to find cover and was shot in the right shoulder, above the protection of his body armor. Mennen eventually found cover behind a 3-foot-high metal Dumpster.
Mingura was behind the truck, in his patrol vehicle, when he said he heard a gunshot and saw a muzzle flash. He also said that, at the time the shot was fired, Mennen did not have a weapon drawn.
Mingura drew his service weapon and began to fire at Ingram with his right hand and his flashlight in his left. As the two exchanged gunfire, Mingura was struck in the left hand — shattering several bones — and in the lower hips.
Mingura retreated to his patrol vehicle for cover and observed Ingram move from the driver’s door to the back of his truck. Mingura ceased fire when he could no longer see Ingram.
From behind the Dumpster, Mennen saw Ingram run from the driver’s side of his truck to the front passenger door and reach into the floorboard area.
Mennen said he believed Ingram was attempting to retrieve some other weapon to use against the officers. Believing that Ingram was trying to kill him, Mennen began firing on Ingram until he saw Ingram fall to the ground. Mennen said he heard something metal hit the ground but could not see any gun.
At this point, Ingram was still alive, moaning in pain. However, the officers were unable to determine whether Ingram still had a weapon. As the two officers attempted to secure the scene, a relative of Ingram’s arrived and began to scream, demanding officers provide care for Ingram. Both officers repeatedly commanded the relative to leave the scene and advised the relative that Ingram had a weapon. The relative disobeyed officers’ commands to leave and, although not approaching Ingram, remained until backup officers arrived.
The DPS report states that the relative’s presence at the scene, close proximity to Ingram and refusal to obey the officers’ commands to leave prolonged the threat and extended the time it took to fully secure the area so medical personnel could attend to Ingram and the wounded officers.
DPS officer Joshua Torrey and other county and Clifton officers arrived, helping to secure the scene and the relative.
Torrey observed a wound to Ingram’s right shoulder and administered first aid until medical personnel arrived. Ingram was transported to the Gila Health Resources medical clinic in Morenci, where he died at about 1:56 a.m., Jan. 27. Examination revealed he had been shot in the right shoulder and in the right chest area. An autopsy performed later at the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed that Ingram died as a result of the gunshot wound to the chest, which perforated his stomach, spleen and liver.
Crime scene analysis performed by DPS revealed that Ingram’s .45-caliber model 1911 Taurus handgun was found discarded near where the gun battle took place. It was empty, and eight 45-caliber spent cartridges were found at the scene, indicating that Ingram had emptied his weapon during the firefight. Ingram struck the officers with four of the eight rounds in his weapon.
Mennen has since returned to duty after a months-long convalescence.
Mingura remains on medical leave, and Clifton Police Chief Omar Negrete said it could be several more months before Mingura returns to duty.