Slain New Mexico police officer to be remembered

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Thousands are expected to gather to pay their respects to Jose Chavez, a Hatch police officer who authorities say was shot and killed by an Ohio fugitive during a traffic stop in southern New Mexico.

A public funeral for the 33-year-old Chavez is scheduled for Sunday at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces.

Law enforcement officers from across the region will participate in a procession that will lead the slain officer on his final patrol through Hatch, passing the public safety building, before heading south to Las Cruces.

A father of two, Chavez was a two-year veteran of the Hatch force.

He was shot Aug. 12 and died at an El Paso, Texas, hospital.

Jesse Denver Hanes, of Columbus, Ohio, faces a first-degree murder charge in Chavez’s death. He also is a suspect in the death of a 62-year-old man in Ohio, authorities said.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is among those who will speak at Chavez’s funeral. She ordered flags to fly at half-staff earlier this week in honor of the officer, calling his killing a senseless act and tragic reminder of the dangers law enforcement officers face daily.

Martinez pointed to Chavez’s death and other recent events, saying lawmakers should reconsider reviving the death penalty when they return to Santa Fe for the next legislative session.

On Monday, Chavez was honored with a law enforcement-led procession that took his body from the Office of Medical Investigator in Albuquerque to a Las Cruces funeral home.

Several area businesses and residents announced fundraisers and events to benefit his family, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

Chavez was a student at New Mexico State University. School officials say he was 16 credits short of his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.