Albuquerque Officers Charged with Murder
Two Albuquerque police officers have been charged with murder in the March killing of a homeless camper, a shooting that generated sometimes violent protests around the city and sparked a federal investigation, prosecutors said Monday.
SWAT team member Dominique Perez and former Detective Keith Sandy will each face a single count of open murder in the death of 38-year-old James Boyd, Second District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said. Open murder allows prosecutors to pursue either first-degree or second-degree murder charges.
Police said Perez and Sandy fatally shot Boyd, who was holding a knife, during an hourslong standoff in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains. Video from an officer’s helmet camera showed Boyd, who had struggled with mental illness, appearing to surrender when officers opened fire.
Sam Bregman, lawyer for Sandy, told The Associated Press that the decision was “unjustified” and said Sandy did nothing wrong.
“To the contrary, he followed his training and probably saved his fellow officer’s life,” Bregman said.
Luis Robles, an attorney for Perez, said, “Sadly, this day has come. Regardless, I am confident that the facts will vindicate Officer Perez’s actions in this case.”
Brandenburg said in a statement that the date for a preliminary hearing for the two has not yet been set.
The Boyd shooting — and more than three dozen other police shootings since 2010 — sparked a series of protests, including one that forced authorities to fire tear gas canisters at violent demonstrators and another that shut down a City Council meeting.
The FBI is investigating the shooting, but federal authorities have not said if officers will face federal charges.
City officials recently signed an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to revamp its police agency after a harsh report over excessive force. Under the agreement, Albuquerque police must provide better training for officers and dismantle troubled units.