Tag Archives: Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden

Family Of James Boyd And City Of Albuquerque Reach Settlement In Wrongful Death Suit

The city of Albuquerque has agreed to pay $5 million to the family of James Boyd, a man with a long history of mental illness who was killed by Albuquerque police last year.

“For far too long, the Albuquerque Police Department fostered policies and practices that failed officers and, in turn, the community. The policies and practices created an atmosphere where the officers most indifferent to human life could recklessly interact with residents, killing them without significant concern or consequence. As a result, even the most well-intentioned officers did not, and could not, police constitutionally within APD. Because the killing of James Matthew Boyd was so needless, so preventable, finally, Albuquerque and department officials could not continue to turn away,” read a statement issued by the family’s attorney, Shannon Kennedy.

On March 16th, 2014, 41 officers were sent to the Sandia foothills to assist in the detainment of Boyd, who was allegedly illegally camping. At the time of the incident, Boyd was carrying two knives. After a standoff lasting over four hours, Boyd appeared to agree to leave his campsite before he was shot and killed by APD officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez.

According to KOB 4, police had created a plan for detaining Boyd: “The plan outlined by K-9 Officer Scott Weimerskirch was to use a flash-bang grenade to distract Boyd, then deploy the police dog. But officers Keith Sandy, Dom Perez and Richard Ingram understood that plan differently. They thought the flash-bang would be deployed, followed by the use of a Taser shotgun, then the police dog.”

The plan went off course as the grenade “didn’t really affect [Boyd] as it should have,” according to Sandy. The police dog turned away from Boyd, and use of a Taser on Boyd achieved little due to the layers of clothing he was wearing.

[RELATED: Audio Caught APD Officer’s Violent Dialogue Before Shooting]

Boyd’s autopsy revealed that he had been shot on the left side of his lower back and both upper arms. His toxicology report showed no illegal drugs or alcohol in his system.

The lawsuit filed by Boyd’s family was sharply critical of Sandy’s history as a police officer. The complaint alleged that before joining APD, Sandy had been fired as a state police officer for being paid as private security while on the clock as an officer. The Albuquerque Journal reported on Sandy’s firing for that incident in 2007.

The complaint noted that Sandy was initially hired as a civilian employee by APD due to his termination for fraud and had been deemed unfit to carry a gun, which KRQE had also noted last March. Sandy went on to advance within the department and eventually became an officer in various tactical units including the “Repeat Offender Project (ROP), the plainclothes detective team that is supposed to go after the worst of Albuquerque’s worst criminals,” according to KRQE. The lawsuit claimed that Sandy was promoted from a civilian employee to an undercover officer, and finally promoted to a plainclothes detective “without passing a psychological ‘fit for duty’ screening evaluation.”

The suit, which requested several changes to the department in its prayer for relief, also included a determination from the Department of Justice which found that APD engaged in violating the constitutional rights of citizens through excessive force.

Sandy and Perez were charged with second-degree murder in June. The case is currently pending.

The Truth In Media Project has been following multiple reports of police brutality and excessive use of force nationwide, including in Albuquerque. To read more about alleged police abuse in Albuquerque, click here. For more information about the James Boyd case, click here.

Hearing Scheduled For APD Officers Accused Of Murdering Homeless Camper James Boyd

Albuquerque, NM- A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for August 3rd for Albuquerque police officer Dominique Perez and former APD officer Keith Sandy, who are facing charges for allegedly murdering a homeless camper. A judge will listen to testimony and decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

The hearing had been originally scheduled for May 18th, but lawyers for both of the accused officers filed motions to reschedule. Luis Robles, Perez’s lawyer, filed a motion last month to vacate the May hearing so that Robles could go on a scheduled vacation with his family. Sam Bregman, Sandy’s lawyer, filed a motion to reschedule so that he could have more time to prepare for the hearing.

Perez and Sandy were charged by Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg in January for the March 2014 shooting of James Boyd, a mentally ill man who was fatally struck by bullets fired by Sandy and Perez during an hours-long standoff. Sandy and Perez were among several officers involved in attempting to remove Boyd from the foothills of the Sandia Mountains where he was reported to be illegally camping.

(RELATED: Two Albuquerque Officers Charged With Murder Of Homeless Camper)

According to Boyd’s autopsy report, he was struck three times: one bullet his his upper right arm which required amputation; one bullet, which caused the most damage and was identified as the cause of Boyd’s death, hit his “lower left back that passed through the lower abdomen and exited the left armpit before re-entering the upper left arm”; and one more bullet struck his upper left arm. Video from a helmet camera at the scene, which captured Boyd appearing to surrender just before he was shot, caused the APD to fall under further scrutiny as protests ensued around the city. Lapel video from Sandy was reportedly never found.

The Justice Department informed the APD a month after Boyd’s death that there was probable cause to believe that the police department was repeatedly engaging “in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.” Last May, protesters overtook a city council meeting and attempted to serve Police Chief Gorden Eden with a citizen’s arrest warrant in response to the findings of the report. The Justice Department and APD entered into an agreement to reform the police department’s practices last October.

Police dash cam audio that captured dialogue between Sandy and State Police Officer Chris Ware two hours before Boyd’s shooting sparked more outrage from citizens, as KOB-4 reported that in the audio recording Sandy had called Boyd a “f***ing lunatic” and said he was “going to shoot him in the penis with a shotgun here in a second.”

(RELATED: APD Reportedly Denied Officer’s “Shotgun” Comments)

In a statement, Bregman said Sandy “had not only the right, but the duty to defend a fellow officer from a mentally unstable, violent man wielding two knives. Keith did nothing wrong. To the contrary, he followed his training and probably saved his fellow officer’s life.” Robles said that Perez “has been called upon to make life-altering decisions while protecting Albuquerque citizens and his fellow officers. And having made one of those decisions, Officer Perez now faces an open count of murder. Regardless, I am confident that the facts will vindicate Officer Perez’s actions in this case.”

Both attorneys have showed concern over which officer is responsible for the fatal bullet that killed Boyd. Both officers had used the same department-issued ammunition.

In April, Brandenburg was disqualified from prosecuting the case due to reported conflict of interest related to an investigation of Brandenburg for alleged witness intimidation and bribery, and Randi McGinn was later appointed as a special prosecutor. McGinn said that three of the six shots that were fired by Sandy and Perez hit Boyd, and that the first two shots were fired by Sandy. McGinn has requested independent lab review seeking to determine which officer fired the shot that killed Boyd. McGinn “expects to announce her charging decision after the test results come back in a few weeks.”

Just before internal affairs began questioning him last November, Sandy retired, managing to secure his retirement pension. Perez is still employed by APD on administrative assignment.

The Truth In Media Project has been following multiple reports of alleged police brutality and excessive use of force nationwide, including in Albuquerque. For more information about alleged police abuse in Albuquerque, click here. For more information about the James Boyd case, click here.