Two hours before James Boyd, a homeless man suffering from mental illness, was shot in the back and killed by Albuquerque, New Mexico, police on March 16, the officer accused of killing 38-year-old Boyd was recorded telling another officer he planned to shoot Boyd “in the penis” with a shotgun.
In the recording made by a dashboard camera in a patrol car, Officer Keith Sandy refers to Boyd, who had spent much of his adult life in a psychiatric hospital, as a “f*****g lunatic.” Sandy is heard on the recording telling State Police Officer Chris Ware, “I’m going to shoot him in the penis with a shotgun here in a second.”
Sandy is now on a paid “administrative leave” from the Albuquerque Police Department, but remains authorized to carry his badge and service weapon.
The recording was aired on Sunday by New Mexico TV station KOB. But during an internal police department inquiry into the James Boyd killing, investigators asked Sandy about the remark, which the officer at the time dismissed as a joke.
“Jokingly, just kind of locker room banter, just told him, you know, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll shoot him in the pecker with this and call it good,’” Sandy told the Albuquerque police investigators.
But Shannon Kennedy, a lawyer for Boyd’s family now suing the Albuquerque police for wrongful death in the killing of James Boyd, believes that the remark was not intended in jest, but as a threat, based on Sandy’s subsequent actions.
“Of course it’s not a joke because he went forward and actually shot him,” Kennedy told KOB. “He calls him an expletive lunatic and then in the next breath says ‘I’m going to shoot him in the penis.’ What is so mortifying about this shooting — and thank goodness we have a tape to show exactly what he did — which is instead of shooting him in the penis, he shoots him in the lower back. So had James Boyd not turned around at that moment to set down his bags, he would have been shot in the penis.”
In his statements to Albuquerque police investigators, Sandy was later asked again about the “shoot him in the penis” remark with regard to James Boyd, but given a chance to reconsider, Sandy denied saying it.
The killing of James Boyd set off protests against police shootings in Albuquerque, a city in which police officers fatally shot 26 people in four years leading up to the police shooting death of James Boyd.
Below is a CNN report from June which includes the disturbing footage of police shooting James Boyd as he turns his back to run away from them. Boyd was accused of “illegal camping.”