Two Albuquerque police officers are facing murder charges in the shooting death of a homeless man. Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy are accused of police brutality in the March 2013 death of 38-year-old James Boyd. According to reports, criminal charges will be filed against both Perez and Sandy on Monday.
In March 2013, the Albuquerque Police Department responded to reports that a homeless man was camping in a restricted zone. As Boyd refused to leave the area, the officers eventually used a flash-bang grenade and a police dog to force him to comply.
As reported by KRQU, Boyd continued to refuse the officers’ demands. Perez and Sandy then opened fire. The Albuquerque police officers shot the homeless man a total of three times. Boyd was transported to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
As one of the officers was wearing a helmet camera, the grisly scene was captured on film. The resulting footage went viral within days.
The Albuquerque Police Department has received stark criticism for the homeless man shooting. Although Boyd refused to leave the campsite, and was armed with “two small knives,” the officers’ choice to use deadly force is being criticized as excessive.
Amid the controversy, former detective Keith Sandy was granted an early retirement. Dominique Perez will remain with the department pending the outcome of the investigation. He is currently on paid administrative leave.
Police shootings are subject to internal investigation as a matter of policy. However, criminal charges are rare. If District Attorney Kari Brandenburg files murder charges against the officers, it will be a first in Albuquerque history.
As reported by Huffington Post, A total of 25 suspects were shot by Albuquerque police officers between 2012 and 2014. Seventeen of those suspects were killed. During the same period of time, the New York Police Department shot and killed fewer suspects than the APD.
According to reports, District Attorney Kari Brandenburg plans to file open murder charges “by information.”
Charges filed by information allow “prosecutors to charge suspects without obtaining an indictment in a secret grand jury proceeding.”
Open murder charges will allow the trial jury to “consider a range of charges from voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison, to first-degree murder, which carries a potential life sentence.”
In a separate investigation, the FBI is expected to side with the Albuquerque police officers accused of shooting the homeless man.
[Image via Wikimedia]