Embedded in reports from the Federal firearms trial of Davon Lyman, the convicted felon accused of shooting Albuquerque Police Officer Daniel Webster last year, were new details surrounding how Lyman acquired the gun used to kill that officer: the convicted felon bought the gun in a parking lot from someone he had never met, without a background check that would have prevented the sale to a convicted felon.
At the end of the Albuquerque Journal‘s report from the courtroom was a summary of testimony from a local man who sold Lymon the gun:
Tuesday’s witnesses included the man who said he sold Lymon the Taurus pistol police said fired the shots that killed Webster. He recounted talking to Lymon on the phone before agreeing to meet him in a Wienerschnitzel parking lot on Juan Tabo, where the sale took place. [read more from the ABQ Journal]
Another witness, Savannah Garcia, a 17-year-old woman who was riding on the back of Lymon’s motorcycle the night of the fateful traffic stop put Lymon at the scene and identified him as the man who pulled the trigger on the gun that led to Webster’s death. Lymon recently waived his right to a jury trial. Prosecutors agreed, and his judgment is expected to be handed down in the coming days. Lymon faces up to 10 years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Lymon was a convicted felon because of a 2001 conviction for shooting to death a young man near the University of New Mexico. The local prosecutors had a conflict in the case and asked Susana Martinez, as district attorney, to step in. She oversaw the plea deal that allowed him to serve just 1/3 of the maximum sentence for that killing with a firearm. From NMpolitics.net and the Santa Fe New Mexican:
Martinez should be familiar with the “boomerang thug” who police say killed him — Davon Lymon.
When Martinez was district attorney in Las Cruces, her office prosecuted Lymon and entered into a plea deal with him in a case in which he was convicted in 2002 of voluntary manslaughter and other charges. The charges related to the 2001 shooting death in Albuquerque of Ron Chanslor Jr., grandson of Blake Chanslor, who founded the Blake’s Lotaburger restaurant chain.
Lymon, 35, served more than 10 years in prison for the Chanslor killing. But he could have been imprisoned for more than 30 years had he gone to trial and been convicted on the original charge, first-degree murder.
Following the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, ProgressNowNM helped organize support for HB77, a bill closing the private-sale loophole used by Lymon, sponsored by State Rep. Miguel Garcia (D-Albuquerque). Several other local groups, including New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence and local chapters of Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms to Prevent Gun Violence, to support the bills as well.
That bill and several similar bills filed since died in the State Legislature in the face of opposition from the NRA and Republican legislators who organized a recurring effort to kill it each time it has been presented.
Gun violence in New Mexico is sadly not of a rare occurrence, but much of it is preventable (including, possibly, the killing of Officer Webster). In fact, statistics show that New Mexico happens to be the 10th worst state for gun deaths in the country. With weak gun laws putting law enforcement and families at risk we must consider what might have prevented Officer Webster’s death. What can we do to make sure that his memory is not in vain, but rather, a call to action for a response to violence in our state?
A convicted felon, Lymon knew he couldn’t buy a gun from a dealer who performed background checks. So he turned to a stranger in a parking lot who could sell him a gun through the private-sale loophole.
New Mexico must do better in protecting our children, families, and law enforcement. In a state where the gun-death rate is 40% higher than the national average, it is time to legislate change.