ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A special prosecutor rested her case Wednesday in the trial of two former New Mexico police officers charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of a homeless man.
Attorneys spent the seventh day of the trial of now-retired Albuquerque police Detective Keith Sandy and former Officer Dominique Perez questioning a former SWAT sergeant who had called Perez to the 2014 standoff with homeless camper James Boyd.
Using testimony from more than a dozen witnesses, many of them police officers, special prosecutor Randi McGinn methodically walked jurors through the incident.
Her case focuses on the timeline of the shooting and a series of fateful decisions by police.
Here’s a look at her version of the killing:
Nineteen officers, including two trained in crisis intervention, and two K-9 units arrived at the Sandia Mountain campsite after receiving a complaint about Boyd. They had firearms and a cache of less-lethal weapons, including a Taser shotgun and flash-bang grenade.
McGinn played a clip from dashcam video in which Sandy, after pulling up to the scene, calls Boyd a “lunatic” and says to another officer that he is going to shoot him with the Taser. Officers have discounted that dialogue as banter between two colleagues who knew each other for years.
McGinn faults authorities for escalating the standoff with Boyd, starting with a decision to end negotiations between him and a crisis officer who testified that he had started making limited progress in getting Boyd to surrender.
FAILED ARREST PLAN
Close to nightfall, officers devised a plan to take Boyd into custody using less than lethal force. Boyd still had knives in his pocket and was picking up his belongings and talking about walking down the mountain with officers when the prosecutor says Sandy detonated the flash-bomb.
Officers believed the bang would disorient Boyd, but he didn’t budge and instead pulled two knives as a police service dog that wasn’t on a leash ran at him and the handler gave chase.
James Fox, who was the SWAT sergeant that called Perez to the standoff, testified that neither he nor Perez knew the details of the plan put together by Sandy’s team. Perez arrived on the mountain less than 20 minutes before the shooting.
Sandy was the first to shoot Boyd, with one bullet striking him in his left arm and another hitting the camper in the right arm, which was later amputated in a failed attempt to save his life.
Defense attorneys say Sandy fired when Boyd pulled his knives from his pockets and appeared to take a step toward the K-9 handler, who was less than 10 feet from Boyd.
The prosecutor countered that Boyd might have taken the step while following the commands of officers to get on the ground.
Perez, whose helmet camera captured video of the shooting, fired a split-second after Sandy. That shot hit Boyd in the back as he fell to his left. Perez’s attorney says his client had placed his finger on the trigger of his weapon while Boyd, with knives out, was still facing the K-9 handler.