The illegal camper shot by Albuquerque police this week was turning away from officers when they fired at him, according to video released by Chief Gorden Eden on Friday.
The shots come after a confrontation in which the man, identified as 38-year-old James Boyd, tells police he’s going to walk down the mountain with them.
“Don’t change up the agreement,” Boyd says. “I’m going to try to walk with you.”
He tells officers he’s not a murderer.
Boyd picks up his belongings and appears ready to walk down toward officers. An officer fires a flash-bang device, which disorients Boyd.
Boyd appears to pull out knives in both hands as an officer with a dog approaches him. He makes a threatening motion toward the officer, then starts to turn around away from police.
That’s when shots ring out, and Boyd hits the ground. Blood can be seen on the rocks behind him.
Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden said officers were justified in shooting a man they said was illegally camping in the Sandia foothills Sunday night because the man made a “threatening” move towards officers.
But significant questions remain, including what killed the man.
An APD spokeswoman cut the news conference short, and Eden walked out while reporters were still asking questions. He did take a question during a brief interview with the Journal after the news conference.
At least one live round hit the man, but the Office of the Medical Investigator has not determined what killed the man, Eden said.
Eden said officers decided to use less-than-lethal force, including bean bag rounds, because the man picked up his backpack and said he was coming off the mountain.
Officers appeared to have the man surrounded, but Eden said they couldn’t wait him out because they couldn’t keep him contained within the perimeter due to the difficulty of the terrain.
Eden identified the man as James Boyd, 38. A 2008 police report released by Eden listed Boyd’s address as the county jail.
Eden said Boyd had a history of violence against law enforcement.
Below is a summary of Eden’s comments, as he made them.
— Chief Eden said APD has interviewed 40 witnesses so far, and that the suspect was sleeping as officers approached.
— The chief showed a video of the incident. It shows officers telling the man to show his hands. They demand repeatedly: “Put the knife down!”
— In the video, Boyd tells officers he’s been trying to contact APD for months. He talks almost non-stop. Officers keep their guns trained on him.
— Chief Eden said the suspect continued to rant after a crisis-intervention officer arrived. The suspect tells officers he’s an agent of the Department of Defense.
— Officers appear to fire less-than-lethal rounds, after which the man drops to ground with the knife still in his hand. They also fired live-rounds, but it’s not clear from the video which shots were live and which weren’t.
— The chief said the suspect is 38 years old and that he refused to follow directions.
— Chief Eden said the man was hit by a live round, but did not say that’s what killed him.
— Eden said the man made a threatening move toward an officer, and that’s what triggered the shooting. The shooting was justified, Eden said.
— Two officers fired shots, the chief says.
— A public information officer announces that the news conference is over. Eden continues taking a few questions before finally walking out as a Journal reporter continues to ask questions.