NM cops to face murder charges for shooting homeless camper

James Boyd shooting…. Will justify Cop Cams. (Note to self: Buy stock in Cop Camera corp)


The shooting and killing of James Boyd, a homeless camper who was shot dead last March at the Sandia foothills in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has brought murder charges against two former police officers. Boyd, 38, had been living at an illegal campsite and initially threatened officers with a small camping knife. After appearing to surrender, he was gunned down after a four-hour standoff. His killing set off a string of protests – some turning violent – across Albuquerque.

Writes USA Today on Jan. 12: “District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said former detective Keith Sandy and SWAT officer Dominique Perez are each charged with one open murder count in the death of James Boyd. An open murder charge allows the prosecutor to decide later whether a first-degree or second-degree charge will be brought.”

According to a report from The Associated Press on March 28, Boyd, who when confronted initially claimed to be a federal agent, “died after officers fired stun guns, bean bags and six live rounds, authorities said. But a helmet-camera video showed Boyd… agreeing to walk down the mountain with them, gathering his things and taking a step toward officers just before they fired.”

Video of the incident, watched over a million times, shows police tossing a “flash bang” grenade, which disoriented Boyd, who appeared confused and unable to hear officers shouting at him to stand down and lay on the ground. As Boyd puts his arms at his side and turns around, appearing to gather his things, he is shot. Police move in, turning their canine on him. Video shows Boyd was clutching a small knife after he was shot.

In April, the U.S. Department of Justice ripped Albuquerque police in a scathing assessment over its use of excessive force. Citing the unit’s “pattern or practice of use of excessive force,” the DOJ said the Albuquerque police department was noted for “often acting recklessly and violating people’s constitutional rights.” Since 2010, over three dozen separate incidents have occurred where Albuquerque police have discharged their weapons. In 23 of those shootings, the suspect has died.

Adds USA Today: “Brandenburg filed criminal information papers, which means a grand jury investigation won’t be required. Recent grand jury decisions in New York and Ferguson, Mo., not to charge police officers in the deaths of suspects resulted in protests across the nation and an outcry against the grand jury system.”

A lawyer for Keith Sandy said his client, “as a police officer, had not only the right but the duty to defend a fellow officer from a mentally unstable, violent man wielding two knives. Luis Robles, an attorney for Perez, mirrored those words and added he was “confident that the facts will vindicate Officer Perez’s actions in this case.”

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