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Boyd autopsy reveals he was shot in back

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story confused the entrance wounds from bullets that entered Boyd’s arms. It has been updated with corrected information.

The homeless man shot and killed by Albuquerque police in the Sandia Foothills in mid-March was shot three times, including in the lower-left back, and had no alcohol or illegal drugs in his system, according to an autopsy and toxicology report released by the Office of the Medical Investigator on Thursday.

James Boyd was seen on helmet-cam video March 16 as officers tried to coax him out of the foothills, where he’d been camping illegally. He brandished two small knives at officers but appeared to agree to leave and to begin walking down the hill when officers shot at him.

The 30-page autopsy said Boyd suffered three gunshot wounds from separate bullets, but the one to his lower back seems to have been the most destructive: A bullet passed through the muscle in his lower abdomen, his left adrenal gland, his large intestine, spleen, diaphragm and left lung before exiting his left armpit. The bullet then re-entered his upper left arm and was recovered by medical investigators, according to the autopsy.

The other bullets also struck Boyd’s arms, including one in his upper right arm that entered from the back and exited the front of his arm. In addition, a bullet struck Boyd’s upper left arm and exiting through back, according to the autopsy.

Because of the damage done to Boyd’s right arm, doctors had to amputate it as they conducted several emergency surgeries to try to resuscitate him, according to the report. He arrived at the University of New Mexico Hospital at 8:15 p.m., the autopsy stated, and his time of death was shortly before 3 a.m. on March 17.

The report also said Boyd suffered several blunt-force injuries, contusions and abrasions on his buttock and right leg, some of which were “consistent with injuries produced by a dog.” Officers were seen on the video loosing a police dog on Boyd.

In addition to documenting the injuries, medical investigators found that Boyd appeared older than his stated age and that he had no illegal drugs or alcohol in his system.

Among the items investigators associated with Boyd were clothes, a toothbrush and a Bible. They also pulled Taser prongs from his clothing, according to the report.

Video of Boyd’s death sparked national and international outrage, and it provided a rallying cry for a series of protests against the Albuquerque Police Department amid a federal investigation that ultimately found APD has a pattern of excessive force and unconstitutional policing.

Police identified the officers who shot Boyd as Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez. The FBI has said it is looking into the shooting for potential criminal prosecution.

Since Boyd’s death, Albuquerque police have shot and killed four other people, stoking continued public criticism of the department.

A few weeks after the Boyd shooting, the Department of Justice wrapped up its investigation into APD and found the department needed drastic reforms of its use-of-force policies and training and accountability practices.

Boyd Autopsy



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