In announcing the decision, the U.S. Attorney's Office said that federal investigators “determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a violation of the federal statute.”
The two Albuquerque police officers who fatally shot homeless camper James Boyd in March 2014 won’t be prosecuted on federal criminal civil rights charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.
In announcing the decision, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that federal investigators “determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a violation of the federal statute.”
The decision basically ends criminal proceeding against officer Dominique Perez and now-retired officer Keith Sandy. Both were tried in state District Court on second-degree murder charges. But a jury deadlocked on the charges in the summer of 2016. Nine of the jurors favored acquittal and three voted for conviction.
The state charges against Perez and Sandy were subsequently dismissed.
“After a careful and thorough review into the facts surrounding the shooting, federal investigators determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a violation of the federal statute,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release. “The evidence, when viewed as whole, indicates that the officers fired only after reasonably perceiving that Boyd posed a serious threat of physical harm to a fellow officer. At the time of the shooting, Boyd was brandishing two knives and was in close proximity to a canine handler.
“Additionally, the officers were aware of Boyd’s violent criminal history, mental health issues, and his repeated threats to kill officers during the standoff. Consequently, there is insufficient evidence to prove that the officers’ uses of deadly force were objectively unreasonable.”
The release continued:
“The federal review sought to determine whether the evidence of the events that led to Boyd’s death were sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any officer’s actions violated the federal criminal civil rights statutes. Under the applicable federal criminal civil rights laws, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law enforcement officer willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right. Courts define ‘willfully’ to require proof that a defendant knew his acts were unlawful, and committed those acts in open defiance of the law. It is one of the highest standards of intent imposed by law.”
Boyd was camping illegally in the Sandia foothills when officers attempted to get him to leave the area. He eventually pulled two pocket knives on officers. Boyd was shot after an hours-long standoff with police.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it reviewed the evidence in the case, including “all of the material and evidence in the state case, which was provided by the APD, the New Mexico State Police and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, including witness statements, recordings from video and audio recording devices worn by officers, dispatch records, photos and recordings by civilian witnesses, crime scene evidence, ballistics evidence, and medical reports.
“The Department also reviewed the evidence presented in state court during the preliminary hearing and trial by the Special Prosecutor appointed by the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office.”
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