A homeless New Mexico man, camping illegally in the foothills outside Albuquerque, was executed by police Sunday, March 16. Video released by the APD shows James Boyd, 38, turning his back and getting shot. The department is maintaining its position that the officers were within their rights in shooting the homeless Boyd.
Albuquerque Police Chief, Gorden Eden, told reporters that officers approached a sleeping Boyd to talk about his illegal camping. Eden said that Boyd began quarreling with officers. The argument allegedly lasted three hours before the fatal shooting. The video taken by the APD shows officers ordering Boyd to “get down” before he is shot.
In the video, Boyd can be heard saying, “I’m going to try to walk with you.” One officer is heard telling Boyd, “Do it.” Boyd is then hit with a device meant to stun him into submission.
Obviously shaken, Boyd drops his gear and seems to take out a knife. Two officers, Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy, open fire hitting Boyd, who was homeless, several times. Boyd then drops on the ground and lays still while officers yell, telling him to drop the knife. When Boyd fails to respond, the officers hit him with several bean-bag rounds before releasing a K9 on him.
In the video, Boyd’s head is seen resting near blood splattered rocks. Boyd was taken to a medical center where he died twenty-four hours later.
Sources say that Officer Sandy, involved in the shooting, was terminated from the State Police force in 2007 following allegations of fraud. He was accused of earning extra money doing private security work while on the state payroll. When Sandy was hired by the APD, he was told he would not be a uniformed officer and wouldn’t carry a gun or have a badge. Sandy rose through the rank-and-file and eventually joined the Repeat Offender Project Team.
Police say Boyd “may have been ”a paranoid schizophrenic.” Boyd has allegedly attacked individuals with guns and knives and a female officer’s nose was broken by Boyd in 2010.
During a press conference, Police Chief Eden said the shooting was called for because Boyd was a “direct threat” to the three officers who had their weapons drawn. When reporters tried to ask why the officers didn’t use stun guns instead of their service revolvers, Eden left the news conference without responding.
ProgressNow, a grassroots advocacy group, has found fault with the shooting. Patrick Davis, Executive Director of ProgressNow New Mexico, said, “I was a police officer for a decade.” Calling the police force over-militarized, Davis went on to say that the procedure for law enforcement in New Mexico is having a very real and negative effect on residents.
Albuquerque City Council President Ken Sanchez has said the video is a cause for concern. The federal Department of Justice is investigating the department for other matters connected to its routine use of excessive force. ProgressNow says the DOJ has been investigating the department since 2012. That year the APD recorded 25 suspects who were shot by police officers and 17 of those were fatal. The report, which gained national attention, went on to say the APD shot more people than the NYPD.
Following the death of a homeless man in Rikers Island several weeks ago, Boyd’s murder seems to show a new trend taking shape in how law enforcement deal with the homeless in America.
By Jerry Nelson