The Albuquerque Police Department's use of deadly force is under fire again, after officers fatally shot a homeless man camping in the foothills last Sunday following a long standoff with officers.
"I'm shocked," attorney Joe Kennedy told KRQE-TV of a new tape showing officers fatally shoot James Boyd. "I've never seen a murder captured on videotape before."
[sharequote align="center"]"I've never seen a murder captured on videotape before."[/sharequote]
The full video, released by APD, shows officers repeatedly giving instructions to Boyd, who refused to comply and allegedly threatened the lives of officers in the hours before the shooting. After deploying a flash bang, K9 and non-lethal rounds, Boyd is seen in the video slightly turning away. That's when two officers fired three bullets each, causing the homeless man to collapse to the ground.
Kennedy, who previously won a $10 million lawsuit against APD for a wrongful shooting death, told KRQUE-TV that he's "never seen anything quite like this."
"You can contain, create distance and time, distance and time every police officer knows benefits the police officer," he said.
The shooting also comes amid a U.S. Justice Department investigation over allegations of excessive force by the police department.
Peter Simonson of the American Civil Liberties Union told KRQUE-TV that the federal investigation into the department should include this case.
“Was there another way to approach this situation that didn’t have to result in someone dying?” Simonson asked. “I think that is a serious open question and its a different question than that of whether is was justified or not.”
[sharequote align="center"]“Was there another way to approach this situation that didn’t have to result in someone dying?”[/sharequote]
APD police chief Gorden Eden, however, adamantly defended his officer's use of force in the shooting, emphasizing that multiple attempts were made to use non-lethal force.
“It was when the canine officer was down directing the canine dog that the suspect pulled out the two knives and directed a threat to the canine officer who had no weapons drawn,” he said.
The incident started when officers approached Boyd to talk to him about illegally camping. Boyd refused to comply and threatened the officers.
“I’m almost going to kill you right now. Don’t give me another directive. Don’t attempt to give me, the Department of Defense, another directive,” Boyd reportedly said at the beginning of the incident.
Hours passed, according to KRQE-TV, and both the APD's Crisis Intervention Team and a state police liaison were brought to the scene. Boyd still refused to comply, continuing to issue threats.
“In a private world, if you were down at a bar or a bus stop, I would have the right to kill you right now because you’re trying to take me over. Don’t get stupid with me!" he warned, according to KRQE-TV.
That's when officers began moving in on the homeless man and started deploying non-lethal rounds, before shooting him.
It wasn't immediately clear how many live rounds struck Boyd, but because video shows that he was turning away after the non-lethal force was used, the shooting is raising questions.
“The big lie is anytime our officers shoot, they had a right to shoot because they felt threatened, and if this doesn’t convince this chief and this mayor that officers are out there killing people without justification, I don’t know what will,” Kennedy said.
Nevertheless, Boyd does have a violent past, extending up to 20 years. According to KRQE-TV, he once punched an officer and sliced another man with a box cutter during a fight.
Earlier this month, new graphic footage was released showing the moment APD shot and killed a man who charged at them with a hammer after attempting to evade authorities.
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