James Boyd, the homeless man in the video, has a history of mental illness and of aggression towards law enforcement officers, and probably should have been in mental hospital.
He was verbally combative towards the officers in this incident and had knives in his hands, but at no point does he appear to be on the offensive, and was shot at six times (three times each by two officers) as he appears to be turning away to flee.
Video shows Boyd then began grabbing bags and attempted to leave when officers started their use of non-lethal force.
As Boyd is moving, officers then threw a flash bang and released a K9 which appears to bite Boyd in the hand. Chief Eden said officers also used a taser gun and bean bag rounds. Two officers, Dominque Perez and Keith Sandy then both fired three bullets each from their department issued rifles, causing Boyd to fall to the ground.
It’s unclear how many shots hit Boyd. APD says it is waiting on a report from the Office of the Medical Investigator to determine an exact cause of death.
However, the video is already raising some questions because of how Boyd appears to be turning away from the officers when bullets were fired.
Chief Eden called the shooting justified at the news conference, saying officers used non-lethal force first and that there was a direct threat made at an unarmed K9 officer. According to Chief Eden, Boyd was less than eight feet from the unarmed canine officer.
I’ll grant that camera lenses can distort apparent distances, but as the K9 officer is on his knees directly in front of the officer in the center of the video, I don’t find Chief Eden’s claim that they were “less than eight feet” from Boyd to be credible.
There seems to be closer to 15-20 feet of horizontal separation, and perhaps 4-5 feet of vertical separation on rough, boulder-strewn terrain. Again, as far as Boyd’s movement shows, he was intent on increasing that separation, and is turning away from the officers when shots are fired.
Lets be very clear here: if there was a shorter separation gap, it is because officers were moving aggressively to close the distance to Boyd.
From the perspective of the helmet camera of Officer Perez, I don’t see where he was justified in taking the three shots that he did on a man turning away from them.
Separately, Perez seems to be in a bad position to be taking any shots at all. The two officers on the hillside ahead of him had rapidly shifted into position as the advanced up the hill, and they stepped in front of Perez. This could have easily resulted in a “blue on blue” shooting, and Perez should have lowered his rifle.
An even more concerning factor is that the other APD officer who fired on Boyd, Keith Sandy, isn’t even supposed to have a gun or a badge, as he was fired from the New Mexico State Police for fraud.
One of the officers who was involved, Keith Sandy has a notable history in New Mexico law enforcement. APD hired Sandy in 2007 after he was fired by New Mexico State Police over the Wackenhut scandal. Sandy was accused of fraud for making money doing private security work while on the clock for State Police.
When Sandy was hired by APD, the department said he would be a civilian employee and he wouldn’t have a gun or a badge. However, Sandy quickly rose through the department, landing on the ROPE Team, which goes after repeat offenders or some of the city’s most dangerous criminals.
Looking at the comments of the article, the locals doesn’t seem to be buying the explanation provided by the Albuquerque Police that this was a justified shooting, and there seems to be some serious trust issues between the police and the citizenry.
Considering that the officer who most likely killed Boyd shouldn’t even be a police officer due his past allegations of fraud and the APD saying that he would be a civilian employee without a badge or a gun, I can understand their concerns.