New Mexico police officers have shot a homeless man dead after an argument over illegal camping. The helmet camera video of the shooting has caused public outrage, but the department calls the killing justified.
The 38-year-old James Boyd set camp in the Albuquerque foothills in the area where camping is illegal. He was surrounded by several officers while he was asleep. Woken by the police, Boyd engaged in an argument that lasted for over three hours.
A helmet cam footage shows Boyd finally agreeing to pick his belongings up and leave. As he’s walking downhill, one of the officers is heard saying “Do it!” and another throws a stun grenade at Boyd. While disoriented Boyd drops hi s backpack, they release a police dog at him, yelling “Get on the ground!”. Boyd lifts his hands up in the air and turns his back to them, which provokes officers Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy to shoot him.
Officers, who suspected that he was trying to pull out a knife, yell at Boyd who’s at this point lying still on the ground to drop the knife. When he doesn’t answer, they fire several beanbag rounds at his motionless body and release the K-9 at him once again. Boyd is finally taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead a day later.
During a news conference, Police Chief Eden justified the shooting saying that Boyd was a “direct threat” to the officers. He reportedly left the conference after being asked why the officers didn’t use stun guns instead of lethal force.
Officers Perez and Sandy have both been placed on paid administrative leave. Sandy was fired from the New Mexico State Police in 2007 over fraud accusations, and was supposed to work only as a civilian employee without a badge or a gun.