ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Albuquerque Mayor R.J. Berry said his new police chief spoke too soon in declaring the shooting of a homeless camper justified and said he has sent this case to the feds to look at as part of the Department of Justice investigation.
Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden responded to the mayor’s criticism and answered more questions about the police shooting caught on tape that has caused an uproar.
Chief Eden said he regrets calling the shooting of a homeless camper in the Foothills justified before the investigation is done.
An APD officer’s helmet camera video, and APD’s comments on it, have sparked major backlash from the public and politicians.
It shows the deadly shooting more than a week ago of James Boyd, a homeless camper with a knife in the Foothills, as he appears to turn away.
“Do you believe this was a justified shooting,” News 13’s Chris McKee asked Eden at a press conference last Friday.
“Do I believe it was a justified shooting? Yes, if you follow case law Garner v. Tennessee, there was a directed threat to an officer,” Eden said.
Mayor Berry said Eden spoke too soon.
“I think the chief made a mistake when, you know, he was in the press conference and 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,” Berry said.
Chief Eden said he agrees.
“The mayor is correct. The mayor and I talked [Sunday] and I told him [Sunday] that I thought my comments were very premature,” Eden said.
He said the question caught him off guard and his answer was based on information he had just heard in a briefing that hadn’t been released to the public.
“What I know is information that I’ve been told by the investigators and that is one of those things we need to go out and verify and verify and verify,” he said.
Chief Eden wouldn’t go into more detail.
In response to the hundreds of people posting their outrage online, Eden asked for the public’s patience.
“Give us an opportunity to complete the investigation,” he said. “Give us an opportunity to go ahead and put the case together and present it to District Attorney or whoever it is that is final decision-maker on the case.”
Eden also said he supports the mayor’s decision to forward this shooting case to the Department of Justice for review.
The two officers involved in the shooting , Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy, have been on standard paid leave but will be put on desk duty sometime this week, according to the chief.
The Department of Justice should release its findings on the culture and use of force at APD in the coming weeks.
The Feds could also bring criminal charges against a handful of officers in some of those cases.