Two Albuquerque, New Mexico police officers have been charged with murder for the on-camera shooting death of a knife-armed homeless man last March.
Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg filed paperwork on Monday charging two Albuquerque police officers each with an open count of murder in the fatal shooting of a homeless camper in Albuquerque’s foothills last March.
Brandenburg’s office on Monday filed a criminal information that charges former Albuquerque police detective Keith Sandy and SWAT team member Dominique Perez with murder in the death of James Boyd, a 36-year-old homeless man who was shot in March 2014.
The charges are the first against an Albuquerque police officer in connection to a shooting. APD has been involved in more than 40 shootings since 2010, resulting in 27 deaths.
Sandy and Perez will face a preliminary hearing before a judge who will decide whether there is enough to proceed with the charges, Brandenburg’s office said in an email release. No date has been set for the court hearing.
Brandenburg filed the charges via criminal information, allowing her to charge the officers without presenting evidence to a grand jury.
Sandy and Perez shot 38-year-old James Boyd, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, after a four-hour standoff in the Sandia foothills. Boyd, who was alleged to be illegally camping, was armed with two small knives.
Boyd’s death was caught on camera, and we remarked at the time that it did not appear to be a lawful shooting:
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…
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.
Not mentioned in today’s report is that Detective Sandy wasn’t even supposed to be armed; he was fired for a time-card scandal in 2007 from another agency, and was only supposed to be a civilian (no badge or gun) hire to help with paperwork at the APD.