ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A district court judge took involuntary manslaughter charges off the table for the two Albuquerque Police officers who shot and killed homeless camper James Boyd last year. However, now-retired Keith Sandy and Officer Dominique Perez are not in the clear yet.
A third day of witness testimony is over. Despite the officers’ request in court to dismiss all charges against them, a judge Tuesday decided he hasn’t heard enough to convince him of that.
After three days of witness testimony in a preliminary hearing, attorneys for Sandy and Perez asked a judge to dismiss all charges against them for killing Boyd.
“Where is the evidence to suggest that he was surrendering?” Sam Bregman, Attorney for Keith Sandy, stated in court.
“Surrendering is when four officers are yelling at you, ‘get on the ground, get on the ground, get on the ground!’ You get on the ground and you drop the knives,” Bregman said to the judge, before asking him to throw out the case.
The defense maintains Boyd never surrendered, threatened officers in the hours long standoff, and had two knives in his hands.
“He did what they said, and his last words were, ‘I’m trusting you to keep your word,’ and as soon as he took a step, they flash banged him, and tased him, and sicked a dog on him,” Special Prosecutor Randi McGinn said.
“He doesn’t pull out his knives until they tased him and then sick the dog on him,” McGinn stated.
The judge decided to leave the second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and aggravated battery charges on the table. He only dismissed the involuntary manslaughter charge, saying pulling the trigger wasn’t an accident.
“The evidence what I’ve heard is more of intentional, and I haven’t heard much of anything unintentional,” said Judge Neil Candelaria.
Earlier in the day, the court heard from the state’s forensic consultant, Barie Goetz. Goetz recreated the scene, and testified that Boyd did turn from officers before they fired six shots in less than two seconds.
“Mr. Boyd had started his turn when he was shot,” Goetz said. “Any doubt in your expert opinion on that?” Special Prosecutor Kevin Holmes asked him. “No,” Goetz replied.
The defense questioned the forensic expert’s credibility, by getting him to admit he hadn’t read the entire police report.
Keith Sandy’s Attorney, Sam Bregman also pointed out the state is paying him to testify.
“How much were you paid to be here today?” Bregman asked Goetz. “I bill $195 an hour,” he replied, after looking at his notes.
“So it’ll be another five $10,000 by the time you leave here?” Bregman asked. “For the three days, yes sir.”
The forensic expert said in court Tuesday that two out of three shots Keith Sandy fired hit James Boyd. He said only the first of Perez’s three shots hit Boyd.
A big part of this case is the lapel cam video taken from police that day. Investigators don’t have video from Keith Sandy, or detective Richard Ingram, who fired a taser shotgun.
The lack of video from Ingram sparked enough curiosity for the judge to chime in and question APD criminalistics detective Nathan Render, who helped investigate the shooting.
“My question is when did you request or did you request his lapel camera at the time of the incident?” Judge Candelaria asked. “I don’t believe so,” Render replied. “I believe it may have been missed.”
Detective Render went on to state he didn’t request the video from the on-scene Sergeant until eight or nine days later. By the time he got it, the video had been cleared and the Boyd encounter wasn’t there.
The preliminary hearing will continue Thursday morning. KRQE News 13 will be live streaming court online. Reporters Haley Rush and Gabrielle Burkhart will be tweeting from court all day.