ALBUQUERQUE (AP) – New Mexico State Police have been told by Gov. Susana Martinez’s office to turn over recordings of a fatal shooting of a homeless camper by Albuquerque police directly to the FBI.
It is unusual for the State Police, which participates in a review team for Albuquerque police shootings, to bypass an Albuquerque police investigation and turn over evidence directly to the federal agency.
The FBI has opened an investigation into the March 16 shooting of 38-year-old James Boyd in the Albuquerque foothills as officials have said he appeared to be surrendering. It marks the first confirmed criminal investigation of Albuquerque police by federal officials, who more than a year ago launched a civil rights probe of the department over allegations of excessive force and a spike in police shootings. Since 2010, police have been involved in 37 shootings, 23 of them fatal.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that Martinez’s directive to turn over the tapes to the FBI was made Thursday.
“Gov. Martinez has directed the state police to provide federal law enforcement with any and all information they believe to be relevant to the investigation,” Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell told the newspaper in a statement.
Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden said he hadn’t seen the State Police recordings and didn’t know what they showed. He also said he hadn’t reviewed any of the police department’s video from the Boyd shooting, except for what was released to the media a week ago.
Albuquerque police fatally shot Boyd in the Sandia foothills following an hours-long standoff and after he threatened to kill officers with a small knife, authorities said. He died after officers fired stun guns, bean bags and six live rounds, authorities said.
But a helmet-camera video showed Boyd, who claimed to be a federal agent, agreeing to walk down the mountain with them, gathering his things and taking a step toward officers just before they fired.
Eden said that the FBI investigation is welcome, and he said he had decided with Mayor Richard Berry to ask federal authorities to investigate.
“I think it’s going to give us that extra set of eyes that we were looking for,” Eden said.