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Judge Rules 2 Police Officers To Be Tried For Murder Of Homeless Man

Albuquerque police officers Dominique Perez (left) and Keith Sandy, whose shooting of James Boyd sparked protest in the city.
Russell Contreras
Albuquerque police officers Dominique Perez (left) and Keith Sandy, whose shooting of James Boyd sparked protest in the city.

Two police officers responded to a 911 call in March 2014 that ended in the killing of James Boyd, 38, a homeless man camping in the foothills outside Albuquerque, N.M.

Now a judge says there is probable cause to try officers Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy for murder, The Associated Press reports.

The AP notes that during a hearing:

"Asked by defense lawyer Sam Bregman what standard he used to justify probable cause, the judge said 'what a reasonable police officer in that situation would do.'

"Special Prosecutor Randi McGinn said during the hearing that Perez and Sandy came to the scene with the intent of attacking Boyd during a 'paramilitary response.'

" 'They created the danger. It was not Mr. Boyd who came at them,' McGinn told the judge."

The officers went to the scene after calls that Boyd was disturbing people. Authorities say he had schizophrenia.

NPR's Kelly McEvers reported on the shooting last spring, after a video from a body camera was published.

"After an hours-long standoff, Boyd agreed to come down the rocky hill. He grabbed his backpack, then police released a sound grenade, and a dog. Boyd grabbed two pocket knives and swiped at the dog. A police officer yelled for him to get on the ground, and Boyd started to turn away.

"Two officers fired four live rounds. Boyd died. Police released the video to show it was a justified use of force."

Kelly says the U.S. Justice Department released its findings that showed Albuquerque police regularly encounter people "who do not pose a threat but then escalate tensions until those people do pose a threat."

The AP notes that since 2010, more than 40 police shootings from Albuquerque Police Department officers have put the department under scrutiny.

Officials said police would get crisis intervention training and would no longer be able use their personal weapons on duty or shoot at moving cars.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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