In March 2014, two Albuquerque police officers shot James Boyd, a homeless man, in the Sandia Foothills.
Boyd, who was 36 and had schizophrenia, had been camping in a restricted area of open space at Albuquerque’s eastern edge. An area resident called police to report Boyd’s presence there.
That call resulted in a three-hour standoff, at the end of which Boyd surrendered.
But surrendering wasn’t good enough for Dominique Perez of the APD SWAT team and former detective Keith Sandy (who retired in December – with full benefits):
One officer’s helmet-mounted camera captured the final moments of the encounter, when Boyd appeared to be complying with commands to leave the area. As he bent down to gather his belongings, an officer threw a flash-bang grenade at his feet. Another officer sicced a police dog on Boyd, who pulled the knives out of his pockets again. As he was turning away from the officers, two of them fired three rounds apiece from assault-style rifles, striking Boyd in the back. (source)
Boyd died at the hospital.
This morning, the DA submitted paperwork to move forward with charges against the two officers (finally).
District Attorney Kari Brandenburg will ask a judge to set a hearing to weigh the evidence, and decide if Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez will be charged with murder for Boyd’s shooting death. Unlike when a grand jury decides on charges, the hearing before a judge will be public.
Brandenburg’s filing will charge Sandy and Perez with open counts of murder. That means a trial jury could consider a range of charges from voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison, to first-degree murder, which carries a potential life sentence.
Maybe this is why the DA is filing murder charges instead of a lesser charge:
Six months after the shooting, an audio recording of officer Keith Sandy was released to the public. Sandy, who was one of the shooters responsible for the death of James Boyd, was heard joking about killing the man TWO hours before the event took place. The recording reads “For this fucking lunatic? I’m going to shoot him in the penis with a shotgun here in a second.” Since then the Albuquerque Police Department has claimed that the public is misinterpreting the audio clip, and that Officer Sandy actually said he was going to shoot him with a taser. (emphasis mine)
But dash cam footage from the scene proves that Sandy did NOT refer to a taser, as reported by KOB4 (emphasis mine):
At the scene, Sandy saw former colleague State Police Officer Chris Ware. Sandy didn’t realize it, but Ware’s dash cam was rolling and picked up their conversation,
Sandy: What do they have you guys doing here?
Ware: I don’t know. The guy asked for state police.
Sandy: Who asked?
Ware: I don’t know.
Sandy: For this f***ing lunatic? I’m going to shoot him in the penis with a shotgun here in a second.
Ware: You got uh less-lethal?
Sandy: I got…
Ware: The Taser shotgun?
Ware: Oh, I thought you guys got rid of those?
Sandy: ROP’s got one…here’s what we’re thinking, because I don’t know what’s going on, nobody has briefed me…
Not only that, but Sandy had a violent past, as Joshua Krause reported in November:
Officer Keith Sandy is probably used to investigations by now. After all, he was fired by the New Mexico State Police amid fraud allegations, but there were no criminal charges. Seems he left that job just in the nick of time, too. Then he was hired by the Albuquerque Police Department who told the public he wouldn’t have a badge or gun and that he would just be a civilian employee.
That was a lie. Sandy wound up with his finger on the trigger when he was placed on the Repeat Offender Project (ROP), a unit so violent it used a noose as its logo. To be clear, this is the same ROP team that the U.S. Department of Justice shut down because its officers were trigger happy. The Department of Justice put the Albuquerque Police Department in its crosshairs because the department kills more people per capita than any other place in the nation.
Actually, it sounds like he was a perfect fit for the “Another Person Dead” police department. Even the DOJ found the APD has a pattern of engaging in excessive force. Hey, it’s how they are trained. Just ask the director of their training academy, Jack Jones.
So, now Brandenburg has decided to pursue charges against Sandy and Perez.
But the DA herself is being investigated by the APD.
Here’s more on that, from KRQE News 13:
On Nov. 25, APD Detective David Nix sent a 700-page, 22-DVD case file to the state Attorney General’s Office. The file included a letter that said APD believes probable cause exists that Brandenburg committed bribery or intimidation of a witness.
The case centers around burglary allegations against Brandenburg’s son, 26-year-old Justin Koch. Nix wrote in his police report that he believes Brandenburg tried to bribe victims of Koch’s burglaries in exchange for them not pressing charges against him.
Current and former law enforcement officers who have spoken with News 13 raised numerous questions about the viability of the case — and why the department chose to forward it to prosecutors. News 13 reported last month on a conversation between Nix and another detective in which they discussed how “weak” the case was.The other detective, Soren Ericksen, noted that ” … it’s gonna destroy a career.”
Based on a News 13 review of the case file, Nix appears to have concluded his investigation at the end of July. In October and early November, prosecutors from Brandenburg’s office told an attorney for the local police union and others at APD that they anticipated charging Sandy and Perez for Boyd’s death. At the end of November, Nix wrote his police report and sent the case to the AG’s Office.
Funny timing, no?
This is even more revealing:
After months of interviewing potential witnesses and poring over email and Facebook records in an attempt to prove Brandenburg had bribed or intimidated victims of burglaries committed by her son, who struggles with chronic drug addiction, the detectives appear to have shelved the case for four months.
Then, weeks after Brandenburg’s office made a preliminary decision to move forward with charges against two APD officers in the most high-profile in a long string of police shootings here — a decision that was shared with the police union’s lawyer — the case against the four-term DA came back to life.
That’s when APD Detective David Nix, who led the Brandenburg investigation, dropped off a massive case file at the state Attorney General’s Office along with a letter announcing that APD believed it had probable cause to charge Brandenburg with felony counts of bribery or intimidation of a witness.
Experts say there are many, many problems with Nix’s investigation of Brandenburg.
Who is retaliating against whom here? While it is refreshing to see a DA actually file murder charges against officers who clearly killed without justification, what will the outcome of this be?
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