ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — [photoshelter-gallery g_id=”G0000XfJEQQTonoA” g_name=”040214-Vigil-for-James-Boyd-gallery” f_show_caption=”t” f_show_slidenum=”t” img_title=”casc” pho_credit=”iptc” f_link=”t” f_enable_embed_btn=”t” f_send_to_friend_btn=”t” f_fullscreen=”t” f_bbar=”t” f_show_watermark=”t” f_htmllinks=”t” f_mtrx=”t” fsvis=”t” width=”620″ height=”465″ f_constrain=”t” bgcolor=”#000000″ btype=”old” bcolor=”#CCCCCC” crop=”t” twoup=”t” trans=”xfade” tbs=”3000″ f_ap=”t” bgtrans=”f” linkdest=”c” f_topbar=”f” f_bbarbig=”” f_smooth=”f” f_up=”f” target=”_self” ]
Most all of the mourners who gathered at sunset in the Sandia Foothills on Wednesday had no idea who he was or where he came from, but many still cried at his eulogy.
The candlelight vigil for James M. Boyd, 38, drew more than 100 people who came to reflect on what the death of this man – who was mostly unknown even to those who knew him – means for those still living in Albuquerque, which has seen a massive outcry following Boyd’s shooting death by police March 16.
“It was a wrongdoing,” said Mabel Williamson, a lifelong city resident, who attended the vigil about a quarter-mile northeast of the Copper Trailhead. “This man was not bothering anyone, was trying to sleep. He didn’t deserve it.”
The vigil featured Ralph DiPalma, a minister who knew Boyd during his work with Albuquerque homeless, and told those mourning Boyd’s death that the man deserved mercy, love and support from police and others who encountered him, especially in his final moments.
“That’s where he ended up: Crying for mercy, crying for mercy,” DiPalma said. “And he didn’t get it.”
Helmet-camera video released by Albuquerque police shows Boyd, who was holding two small knives, turning away from officers as they opened fire upon him. He then fell facedown on the ground and said, “Please don’t hurt me anymore,” before officers shoot him with beanbag rounds and let loose a police dog upon him. He died the next day at a hospital.
The shooting prompted a local, national and international outcry when video of the shooting went viral. It sparked multiple protests in Albuquerque, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the shooting for possible criminal prosecution.
Most of the attendees said they never knew Boyd, but wanted to pay their respects to a man who many said was failed by the system.
But Brian Faulkner, a disabled Desert Storm veteran who said he befriended Boyd in the bosque 10 years ago when they were both homeless, said he came to grieve for a man he described as troubled and mentally ill, but also as a friend who was incredibly kind and considerate.
Faulkner, who was dressed in military garb and said he lived in veteran housing nearby, said both he and Boyd looked to the foothills as an escape from the city.
“I’ll have my alone time with him today,” Faulkner said. “We came up here to kind of decompress.”
After DiPalma eulogized Boyd, the attendees lit candles or held flashlights and visited the spot up the hill where Boyd was fatally wounded. Below what appear to be two bullet marks in a boulder sits a bundle of flowers and a cross arranged out of rocks.
DiPalma said Boyd was a “loner” whom he saw gradually getting worse and worse as he struggled to deal with his issues. He eventually stopped seeing Boyd at all.
“He lost control of his life,” DiPalma said. “And each year, he lost a little more.”