Boyd was fatally shot on March 26, 2014, after a nearly three-hour-long standoff with police in the Sandia Mountain foothills on the east side of town.
Two Albuquerque police officers will have to stand trial on second-degree murder charges for fatally shooting homeless camper James Boyd in March 2014.
Bernalillo County District Judge Neil Candelaria ruled Tuesday that there was probable cause to hold former officer Keith Sandy and officer Dominique Perez over or trial on second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter charges.
Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys had any comment as they left the courtroom following Candelaria’s finding. This afternoon’s courtroom session that lasted only a few minutes. The preliminary hearing itself spanned the course of two weeks with testimony from a variety of witnesses, including police-procedure experts and police officers at the scene who said they feared for their lives in the seconds before Boyd was killed by police gunfire.
Boyd was fatally shot on March 26, 2014, after a nearly three-hour-long standoff with police in the Sandia Mountain foothills on the east side of town. The case began around 4:30 p.m that day when officers John McDaniel and Patrick Hernandez were dispatched on a call of illegal camping in the city’s Open Space area. An area resident had called APD to report the illegal camping.
Almost immediately the situation escalated to the point of no return. Upon approaching Boyd, who was in a plastic, makeshift tent, the officers demanded to see both his hands. When Boyd hesitated, they drew their weapons on him — 11 seconds into the incident.
McDaniel then attempted to pat Boyd down. At that point, Boyd pivoted around and pulled four-inch-blade knives out of his pockets. The officers shouted more than a dozen times at Boyd to drop the knives, and he refused to do so. It was at that point that Boyd had committed a felony and that officers were obligated to arrest him.
More officers were called, and eventually 19 were on the scene. During the standoff, officers tried to negotiate with Boyd and repeatedly asked and ordered him to drop his knives. He never did.
The final moments came just after 7:30 p.m. when the police launched a three-pronged attempt to subdue Boyd by non-lethal means. The planed included blasting Boyd with a flash-bang grenade, shooting him with a Taser and unleashing a K-9 dog on him. All three things were tried, and they all failed to get Boyd to surrender.
After the non-lethal plan was launched, officers rushed Boyd while shouting at him to hit the ground. At one point Boyd pulled the knives out of his pockets and stood facing the officers. They again ordered him to hit the ground. Boyd was shot as it appeared he was turning to his left.
Special prosecutor Randi McGinn argued that Boyd was turning toward his left to fall to the ground to obey the officers’ orders when he was shot.
The defense said that surrender would have involved Boyd giving up his knives, which never happened. The defense argued that the cops were obligated to shoot Boyd after he pulled the knives and represented a threat to K-9 officer Scot Weimerskirch, who had moved to within nine feet of Boyd and went to his knees in anticipation that Sandy and Perez would fire past him at Boyd.
Dennis Domrzalski is an associate editor at ABQ Free Press. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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