A camper shooting has the Albuquerque Police Department under federal investigation after a homeless man was gunned down at an illegal camp site.
The FBI has opened an investigation into the March 16 killing of the man who appeared on video to be surrendering to police. Though the FBI normally does not publicize such investigations, the organization issued a statement to “assure the public that a thorough and fair investigation will be conducted.”
Video taken from a camera attached to one of the officers surfaced last week, showing police throw a flash bang grenade to disorient the man, 38-year-old James Boyd. He then appears confused and unable to hear the orders shouted at him by police officers, who open fire and kill Boyd.
Prior to the shooting, Boyd engaged officers in an hours-long standoff in the Sandia foothills, reportedly threatening to kill officers with a knife. But the video shows that Boyd agreed to walk down the mountain with officers and appeared to be gathering his belongings at the time he was shot.
The camper shooting is one of a number of controversial incidents involving the Albuquerque Police Department. In the last four years the department has been involved in 37 shootings, 23 of them fatal.
“This was something that caught the attention of the world,” said Ralph Arellanes, director of the League of United Latin American Citizens’ New Mexico chapter and a member of the city’s police oversight task force. “It’s a tremendous injustice. A tremendous tragedy. And I also think there are more cases that (the U.S. Department of Justice) needs to refer for criminal proceedings.”
The camper shooting drew widespread protests against the Albuquerque Police Department, including picketers with signs that “APD is Guilty” and “Justice For James Boyd.” Even the city’s mayor Richard Berry called the shooting “horrific” after seeing the video.
The FBI did not say when the camper shooting investigation would conclude or what possible charges the Albuquerque Police Department could face.