Originally published on January 13, 2015, at NationofChange.org
Two Albuquerque police officers were charged with murder on Monday for the shooting of a mentally ill homeless man captured on video. Accused of committing unjustified and unconstitutional police shootings by a Justice Department investigation, Albuquerque police officers often condone excessive use of force and escalate potentially hazardous situations. Since 2010, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has been involved in over 40 shootings resulting in 27 deaths; many were people with mental illnesses.
Bypassing the state grand jury process, Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg filed documents on Monday in the Second Judicial Court containing a count of open murder against Albuquerque Police Officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez. Authorized by New Mexico state law, Brandenburg filed criminal information records allowing the prosecutor to present charges without an indictment from a grand jury.
“Unlike Ferguson, and unlike in New York City – some recent high profile cases – we’re going to know,” stated Brandenburg. “The public’s going to have that information, you’re all going to have seen the witnesses, heard the arguments, and you’ll understand, hopefully, perhaps why the judge made the decision he or she will make.”
On March 16, 2014, APD officers responded to a report of a homeless man, James Boyd, illegally camping in the Sandia foothills. Diagnosed with schizophrenia and armed with two small pocketknives, Boyd negotiated with police for four hours before agreeing to surrender. According to a helmet camera video released by the APD after the shooting, Boyd had been complying with their orders when an officer fired a flashbang grenade at him.