ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A deadly New Mexico police shooting that happened a year ago Monday prompted angry protests and a murder investigation into the officers involved.
The fallout from the killing of James Boyd, a mentally ill homeless man, provided an early glimpse of the outrage that would spread across the country in 2014 over what critics decried as heavy-handed law enforcement tactics.
Boyd’s death came amid a wave of police shootings in Albuquerque. Mayor Richard Berry called it a game changer and urged the U.S. Justice Department to finish an investigation into the police department so a federal monitor could be appointed.
Protests after the shooting shut down streets and a City Council meeting, and activist hackers threatened city government.
As Albuquerque looks to rebuild, here are some things to know:
Police shot Boyd, 38, following an hours-long standoff in the Sandia foothills.
The homeless man was carrying two knives when authorities tried to get him to leave his makeshift campsite. A standoff ensued, and Boyd appeared to be surrendering before officers fired a smoke bomb and then live rounds.
Police lapel video of the shooting went viral and generated outrage around the U.S.
Authorities said Boyd had schizophrenia, and before the deadly encounter, he was in and out of mental facilities and had lost almost all contact with his family.
His criminal record included violent crimes, such as a December 2010 arrest on charges he punched a female officer and fractured her nose at a city library.
The Justice Department released a scathing report last April, outlining a pattern of excessive force by the Albuquerque police department and recommending the city adopt reforms.
According to the report, officers too frequently used deadly force on people who posed a minimal threat, and used a higher level of force too often on those with mental illness.
The report was issued in response to a spike in Albuquerque police shootings that started in 2010.
District Attorney Kari Brandenburg made headlines when she filed murder charges against Albuquerque SWAT team member Dominique Perez and former Detective Keith Sandy for Boyd’s death. It was a rare move by the district attorney.
The officers’ lawyers have filed motions to have her dismissed from the case since Albuquerque police launched an investigation involving Brandenburg in connection with alleged bribery.
A federal court must approve a proposed settlement between the city and the Justice Department on overhauling the police department.
Federal officials and the city already have selected an independent monitor, expert James Ginger, to lead the effort.
In the case against the officers in Boyd’s death, a judge will have to rule on the district attorney’s role before the case goes forward. It’s possible a decision could come before the end of the month.