Kenneth Reiss, 50, was a longtime bartender at Joe’s Place at Carraro’s Pizza located across the street from the University of New Mexico. He started working there at 19 as a busboy and became a fixture at the popular restaurant and bar. He was shot and killed by Albuquerque Police Department officers after he called to report a burglary at his home near UNM. The call should have been routine but it turned into a bizarre and tragic night.
At about 12:30am Aug. 11, 2020, Reiss called 911 to report that two people broke into his house near Girard Blvd. and Garfield Ave. NE. He told the dispatcher that the two men threatened him with a gun, he shot at them and that someone was coming out of his house. He told the dispatcher he was in trouble with some ‘skinhead punks’ over a woman and she was still in the house.
The dispatcher told him to hide so Reiss headed down the street. When police arrived at Reiss’ house they found it empty and they found bullet holes. They heard a gunshot, which was Reiss accidentally shooting himself in the thigh. Then police saw a man running down the street, thinking it was the home intruder. Three officers came upon Reiss hiding behind a vehicle. According to a lapel video, and Nest doorbell footage from a neighbor’s house, they did not identify themselves as police when they yelled for him to show his hands. Reiss responded with “No, you’re not cops.” Reiss fired one shot over the hood of the vehicle, then all three officers opened fire, hitting Reiss several times. One of the officers thought Reiss had his hand near his pistol, so he fired four more shots.
In the lapel video conversation between the officers, it is clear that they did not know if it was the home intruder or the caller that they shot. Subsequent investigation by police found no evidence of a home invasion.
According to the Office of Medical Investigators autopsy report, Reiss had a high level of methamphetamine in his system. For comparison, levels of meth at about 600ng/ml have been tied to violent, psychotic behavior. The OMI report said Reiss had 1900ng/ml in his system along with traces of marijuana in his system.
Reiss, an only child, moved to Albuquerque from Long Island when he was 10. He attended the gifted and talented program at Eldorado High School. He was 17, still in high school, when both his parents died one month apart. After graduating high school, he headed for the lights of Los Angeles and spent a couple of years doing the LA thing before heading back. He got the gig at Carraro’s, where he settled in.
A settlement agreement was reached this month with the City of Albuquerque for $50,000. Reiss is survived by one son, Devon. The Paper. has reached out to attorney Rachel Higgins for comment on behalf of the family.