Video shows Albuquerque police killing mentally-ill homeless man

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — Albuquerque police shot a homeless man in the back and killed him, and it was all caught on gruesome detail in a police video.

It is just one more in a long line of police killings that has the city’s Police Department on the verge of federal oversight.

James Boyd, a mentally disturbed man who friends say was attempting to camp out in the foothills above Albuquerque one night in March because city homeless shelters had closed, was holding two small camping knives.

Officers negotiated with him for five hours, eventually winning agreement from Boyd to leave the makeshift — and illegal — campsite.

Then a police stun grenade went off, Boyd, 38, turned his back and three shots were fired.

Police video shows Boyd on his stomach on the ground, wheezing for breath as officers sic a dog on his legs and fire bean bag rounds at him.

He was already mortally wounded. An autopsy on Boyd found he was shot in the back. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.

The horrific encounter, routinely recorded as part of police protocol, is now a key part of an ongoing drama in New Mexico’s largest city — a series of protests against the police and city officials. Federal officials are close to a deal that would have them supervising the Albuquerque Police Department.

Records show that 26 people have been killed by city police in Albuquerque since 2010, a per capita rate of officer-involved deaths higher than New York City and Chicago. Forty people have been wounded by police over the same period of time. So far, the city has paid out $30 million in settlements and officials acknowledge that amount will grow.

In a report written before Boyd’s shooting, the U.S. Department of Justice blamed the Police Department for poor training and said “we find that the department engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force during the course of arrests and other detentions in violation of the Fourth Amendment.”

Boyd’s death has been added to the list of questionable killings. In April 2011, a young Albuquerque man — whose parents had contacted police because he had mental health issues — was killed in his own backyard by two plainclothes police.

The officers had come to the home of Christopher Torres on an arrest warrant issued the month before. They said he was armed and shot him in the back as they wrestled on the ground.

Torres’ parents, Stephen and Renatta Torres, say he was holding a broomstick, which he laid down when police approached. They sued police, and a judge awarded them $6 million in a civil judgment, saying the police testimony was “not credible.”

The Albuquerque district attorney, Kari Brandenburg, cleared the two officers in the Torres killing. She has cleared every other police officer involved in a killing during her last 13 years in office.

Police Chief Gordon Eden has been on the job for only about three months. Initially, he called Boyd’s shooting “justified” but tells CNN that he spoke “prematurely, and I shouldn’t have.”

Eden says he is “holding people to a higher degree of culpability,” but he is also facing Justice Department oversight.

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10 comments

  • stinger90

    One of many reasons why I hate the police now. Wearing that badge doesn’t make certain things right in what they do. I lose respect for them everyday.

    • Police are good

      Look at it from their perspective. They may not like people (you). Does that mean there aren’t some really good people in the world? Why yes, yes there are some really good people in the world. Are there some really good cops? Why yes, there are some really good cops in the world. Are there some bad people and some bad cops in the world? Why yes, yes there are some really bad people and bad cops too. You can’t judge the whole bag of potatoes by one or two bad ones.

      • john jacob

        Well that whole bag of potatoes is going worse every single day…seems like there are more and more shootings from these crooked people wearing badges. Yes, there are some good ones out there but like I said, there are more and more bad ones while the good ones are depleting by the hour.

  • hipriestess4u

    The cops have begun their fatality tour with a shooting spree, this is the beginning of the zombie apocalypse and the police are the Borg collective…

  • Owen 'Mshengu' Greenland

    About 20 years ago the DC cops choke-holded a deaf-mute to death because he failed to respond to the police ordering him to sit or lie down. After the fact – when it was determined that he was indeed a student at Gallaudet University – the police were exonerated as they were deemed justifiably operating within their rights.

    PATHETIC!

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