Mayor Berry: APD chief’s justification of shooting a ‘mistake’

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry says he’s asked the Department of Justice to look into the police shooting of a homeless camper in the foothills.

Meanwhile, the mayor has also called new Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden’s justification of the shooting “a mistake.”

The comments came from Mayor Berry Monday as public outcry continues to emerge over the officer involved shooting that left 38-year old James Boyd dead. Police video of the shooting has garnered hundreds of thousands of views and comments on the internet while local leaders also shared their concern about the video over the weekend.

“I was troubled,” said Ken Sanchez, President of the Albuquerque City Council.

Mayor Berry said Monday that he too was concerned by the video.

“And I want, like everyone else, we want answers,” said Mayor Berry.

APD’s helmet-camera video recording of the incident shows officers Keith Sandy and Dominque Perez each firing three shots at Boyd as Boyd appears to be turning away from officers. Boyd died the next day.

On Monday, the mayor called the video “upsetting.”

“Well look someone died,” said Mayor Berry. “You see these things and anytime someone loses there life it’s just horrific, and it’s all the way around.”

However, Mayor Berry also had something to say about an answer Chief Gorden Eden made during Friday’s press conference.  KRQE News 13 asked, “do you believe this was a justified shooting?”

Eden responded, “Do I believe it was a justified shooting? Yes, if you follow case law, ‘Garner versus Tennessee,’ there was directed threat to an officer.”

Mayor Berry believes that was a wrong statement to make.

“He was asked an honest question about what he thought, was it justified or not? I think he gave an honest response but I think that was a mistake. And I’ve talked to Chief about that and I think he understands that was a mistake. It’s not our job to make judgements at this point,” said Berry.

The mayor says the investigation into the shooting isn’t complete and Chief Eden should have waited before making a call about whether or not the shooting was justified.

“I don’t make any judgments on justified or unjustified, I think that would be just as much of a mistake as when Chief Eden said that he thought it was justified, his personal opinion, which is a preliminary one, we understand, but he shouldn’t have said it,” said Mayor Berry.

The mayor says he wants outsiders involved in the investigation now as well. Mayor Berry told News 13 that the city has already forwarded the case to the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ is already looking into the culture at APD and a rash of police shootings that have happened since 2010.

City police have fatally shot 22 men since January 2010.

Calling the federal investigation a “review that’s ongoing”, Berry said he’s ordered city staff to send the DOJ information related to the shooting, including helmet-cam video of the moment officers Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy shot Boyd.

The mayor has also asked the Las Cruces Police Department to independently review this latest shooting.

“I think it would be important for the community, myself included to have some additional sets of eyes on this,” said Mayor Berry.

Mayor Berry says Las Cruces Police was picked because it’s the second largest police department outside of the metro-area. That agency is also part of a multi-jurisdictional team that investigates police shootings. They’re still reviewing the request. The mayor says if they decline, the city will “find someone else.”

KRQE News 13 reached out to APD Chief Eden for response on Monday, but didn’t hear back.

Governor Susana Martinez says she’s also watched the video several times.

“I can certainly understand why people would be concerned and that it’s more important for there to be a thorough investigation of what led to the call and the steps of every single officer that was present,” said Governor Martinez.

The governor says she can’t give an opinion on Chief Eden calling the shooting “justified” because she isn’t sure if he has more knowledge of the case than has been released to the public.

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