ALBUQUERQUE N.M. — On Apr. 12, a federal grand jury filed an indictment against Kirby Cleveland, 32, a Navajo tribal member who is accused of killing Navajo Police Officer Houston James Largo.
While responding to a domestic violence call in Casamero Lake, New Mexico, on the night of March 11, Largo was allegedly shot by Cleveland. Largo would later die from critical injuries sustained from being shot.
The indictment charges against Cleveland are the following: murdering an officer or employee of the United States who was engaged in the performance of his official duties; committing a felony murder while escaping from an institution of confinement; first-degree murder; escaping from an institution of confinement where he was confined after his conviction on a felony offense; using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, the murder of an officer and employee of the of the United States as charged in count 1; using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, felony murder as charged in count 2; using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, first-degree murder as charged in count 3; and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Counts 1, 2, 5 and 6 each carry a maximum penalty of death or life imprisonment upon conviction. The indictment includes “Special Findings” under 18 U.S.C. § 3591 with respect to these four-death eligible offenses. The Special Findings preserve the United States’ the ability to seek the death penalty.
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said he appreciated the timeliness in which the attorney general had brought forth the indictment. Begaye urged the judges to move forward on this case and bring it to closure.
“We want to make sure that the attorneys and the courts deal with this killing in the most judicious way possible. We don’t want to see this case drawn out for years,” Begaye said. “No matter what the court does beyond any sentence or judgement made, it will not bring Officer Largo back to his family or to the Navajo Nation. Officer Largo’s family is still in mourning and the Nation is saddened because of this life taken from us.”
Vice President Jonathan Nez extended condolences to the Largo family on behalf of the Navajo Nation. The vice president urged tribal members to instill respect for law enforcement to the youth.
“Traditionally within our homes, our parents are the first authority figures. If we honor these teachings, we are better able to respect authority in life, which extends to police officers, tribal and community leaders and governmental officials,” he said.
Begaye agreed that instilling respect for authority in Navajo youth can make a difference in eliminating these types of killings.
“Police officers are real people with real families who love and depend on them,” he said. “We need to bring closure to this case, which will also bring healing to the family.”