Police involved in the shooting of a homeless man with schizophrenia last March are now facing second degree murder charges.
The incident took place March 16, 2014 after police in Albuquerque, New Mexico responded to a tip that there was a mentally ill man camping illegally in the Sandia Mountains. Video footage of the event was recorded via a law enforcement camera mounted on a helmet of an officer present at the time.
The video showed James Boyd (who was a 38) being taken down by law enforcement officers (two of which were Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez) after five hours of negotiations. Despite Boyd being submissive with the officers, they went on to throw a flash bang grenade. Boyd then picked up his bag and turned while holding on to two camping knives. The police fired shots at him – striking him in the back and arm. Boyd fell to the ground, while still gripping his knives. An officer then released a police dog while another continued to shoot Boyd (this time with bean bag rounds). The cops handcuffed him as he cried out to the officers, begging for mercy.
The video was released by the CDP and it sparked outrage and demonstrations all across the city.
Boyd had a history of untreated schizophrenia and multiple altercations with the law. He was taking up residence illegally in a tent at the time of the controversial confrontation.
This was just one link in a series of unnecessary escalations taken by the Albuquerque Police Department. Before Boyd’s death, the Department of Justice had undergone an investigation into the growing number of cases where police have been careless with the use of force. Federal investigators reported on their findings:
“We found incidents of CDP officers firing their guns at people who do not pose an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to officers or others and using guns in a careless and dangerous manner, including hitting people on the head with their guns, in circumstances where deadly force is not justified. Officers also use less lethal force that is significantly out of proportion to the resistance encountered and officers too often escalate incidents with citizens instead of using effective and accepted tactics to de-escalate tension.”
Special Prosecutor Randi McGinn’s office made the announcement that several charges had been laid against Officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez, including second-degree murder.
Officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez have both denied wrongdoing. The officer’s attorney, Sam Bregman, defended his clients by saying that (Sandy) “was protecting a fellow officer when he shot Mr. Boyd. There was no criminal intent.”
The video of the incident is extremely hard to watch. The poor judgement and little self-control demonstrated by the officers is unacceptable. The actions taken against Boyd after he had long been debilitated by the initial round of shots were unnecessary and cruel.
Regardless of status and position it is important we are all held accountable for our actions. I hope that justice is served to those involved in this disgusting display of aggression.
WARNING – WARNING – WARNING – WARNING – WARNING – WARNING – WARNING – WARNING
The following video contains footage which may be disturbing and upsetting to some viewers. Proceed with caution.
RT America “Cops Shoot To Death Homeless Man For Camping” Youtube. 25 March 2014. Web. 22 June 2015.