After an endless streak of cops nationwide going uncharged in the slayings of citizens, two Albuquerque police officers were charged with murder Monday in the shooting death of a homeless man that was captured on body cam in a video that went viral.
The decision by Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg was unprecedented in the fact that she opted to bypass the traditional and secretive – not to mention spineless – process of allowing a grand jury to decide whether or not to charge cops for the death of citizens.
But unlike prosecutors throughout the country, Brandenburg does not have the best working relationship with the local police department.
So perhaps this is just political payback.
After all, she refused to prosecute the dozens of police shootings before the Boyd shooting, which had already prompted a United States Department of Justice investigation.
Either way, it forces a more transparent procedure, something that hopefully becomes a trend in cities throughout the country where trigger-happy cops have declared an unbridled war on citizens, sparking nationwide protests and demands for reform.
Charged in the murder of James Boyd are Keith Sandy, who has since retired, and Dominique Perez, who is still on the force.
Boyd had a history of mental illness and had ventured to the foothills on the outskirts of the city to sleep. Police confronted him for “illegal camping.”
The video shows police fired a flash grenade at his feet, sicced a dog on him, then shot him repeatedly.
They later claimed they were in fear for their lives because he had two pocketknives in his hands.
But the video shows he seemed confused and appeared to be attempting to comply before he was shot.
They just never gave him a chance.
District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said her office charged Sandy and Perez with an open count of murder because “we have probable cause.”
She would not discuss the specific facts of the case and said it would be up the judge hearing the case to determine which charge — ranging from
1st degree murder to aggravated assault — would apply in the case.
The charges are the first against an Albuquerque police officer in connection to a shooting. APD has been involved in more than 40 shootings since 2010, resulting in 27 deaths.
Sandy and Perez will face a preliminary hearing before a judge who will decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed with the charges and bind the two over for trial, Brandenburg’s office said in an email release. No date has been set for the court hearing.
Brandenburg filed the charges via criminal information, allowing her to charge the officers without presenting evidence to a grand jury.
Based on our investigation, we have reasonable cause to believe that APD engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment and Section 14141. Our investigation included a comprehensive review of APD’s operations and the City’s oversight systems. We have determined that structural and systemic deficiencies—including insufficient oversight, inadequate training, and ineffective policies— contribute to the use of unreasonable force.
Below is the video of the shooting as well as a video of PINAC reporter Charlie Grapski reporting from the scene of the shooting, demonstrating how remote Boyd was when he was shot.
UPDATE: A video of the press conference has been posted at the bottom.