The trial of two Albuquerque Police officers for the caught-on-viral-video fatal shooting of the mentally ill James Boyd ended in a hung jury, 9 for acquittal, 3 for conviction of Detective Keith Sandy and Officer Dominique Perez on charges of second degree murder. Jeff Proctor covered the trial for the NY Times.
The city of Albuquerque, NM sits on the edge of a desert, walled off to its east by the mile-high up-thrust of the Sandia mountain range. The northeastern edge of town consists of suburban neighborhoods of homes and townhouses that climb up the base of the Sandia foothills into steep and rugged, scrubby and rocky terrain, marked by hiking trails, snake and coyote dens, bobcats, bears and the occasional mountain lion.
It was around 3:30 in the afternoon of March 16, 2014 that someone in the neighborhood spotted an illegal squatter, camped out in the open space behind and above his home and called police. Soon, 2 Open Space police officers found James Boyd, resting under a plastic sheet and told him to pack up and go somewhere else.
Boyd refused, threatening the officers verbally and with a couple of small knives. Faced with a standoff, the open space officers asked for back up.
Reinforcements arrived, but the impasse continued. The afternoon was turning to night, light was fading, when the deadlock was broken by a fusillade of bullets, beanbags and a flash-bang grenade which left James Boyd mortally wounded.
The 2 Albuquerque Police officers who shot Boyd, Detective Keith Sandy and Officer Dominique Perez were charged with murder, and roughly 2 ½ years after the event, went on trial.
After 2 weeks of testimony and 2 days of deliberations the jury told Judge Alisa Hadfield they were deadlocked…9 jurors for acquittal of both men, 3 for conviction. The Judge declared a mistrial and will hold a hearing on November 14 to determine what will happen next, a retrial or release of the now retired Det. Sandy and the fired-but-asking-for-reinstatement Officer Perez.
Jeff Proctor is an Albuquerque-based investigative reporter, currently covering criminal justice issues for the news website nmindepth.com. It’s a beat he has also covered by KRQE-TV and the Albuquerque Journal. He covered the trial of Det. Keith Sandy and Officer Dominique Perez for the New York Times.