ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Closing arguments will begin Tuesday morning in the preliminary hearing for two Albuquerque Police officers charged with murdering James Boyd.
Both sides rested their cases Monday, after six days of testimony.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors used unusual tactics in court to help drive home their points. The court also heard from one of the key witnesses in the case, the man police claim was one of the main reasons officers shot Boyd.
K-9 handler, Officer Scott Weimersckirch was the final defense witness to take the stand. His testimony will help a judge decide whether retired APD detective Keith Sandy and Officer Dominique Perez will go to trial on murder charges for killing Boyd.
“For over an hour, I tried to de-escalate and negotiate a peaceful surrender,” Weimerskirch explained.
The defense played the K-9 handler’s lapel video in court. “I need you to drop all the knives!” Weimerskirch shouted at Boyd.
“There you go again man! I have every right to carry my knives,” Boyd shouted back at officers.
Weimerskirch said he planned for officers to use less lethal force, like the flash bang, Taser shotgun, and K-9 to arrest Boyd. At that point, Weimerskirch moved in.
Defense Attorney for Officer Perez, Luis Robles, asked Weimerskirch, “Why did you move closer to Mr. Boyd if in fact you put your safety at risk?”
“Anytime we take someone into custody, it’s dangerous,” Weimerskirch replied.
Officer Weimerskirch also admitted in court, he lied to Boyd at the point police planned to deploy less lethal tactics.
“I used a lie, part of deception to try and give us a tactical advantage by trying to distract Mr. Boyd and have him focus on anything else besides the knives,” Weimerskirch explained.
He said anytime officers commanded Boyd to put down the knives, he became agitated.
The K-9 handler claimed less lethal tactics didn’t work. He said the Taser shotgun was inadequate since Boyd had too many layers of clothing, and the dog attacked Boyd’s bag instead of Boyd.
It’s the K-9 handler’s close proximity to a man with knives, police point to as the main reason Sandy and Perez shot Boyd.
“By shooting Mr. Boyd, what did officer Perez and detective Sandy do for you?” Robles asked Weimerskirch. “Saved my life,” he replied.
Defense Attorney Sam Bregman stood on a 4-foot platform to make his point. Bregman stood approximately 8-9 feet away, the same distance Boyd was to Weimerskirch during the standoff.
“Is this a better perception of what you saw on that day on the mountain?” Bregman asked, while standing on the platform.
“Yes, from my perspective,” Weimerskirch replied. The defense claims Boyd was at an advantage over the officers, based on his position.
Special Prosecutors used the same platform to argue Boyd was moving toward the ground when officers shot him.
“The perspective here changes to whether someone’s a deadly threat when they turn away from you doesn’t it?” Kevin Holmes, Special Prosecutor, asked Weimerskirch.
“Based on perception,” Weimerskirch replied.
The state also pointed out Officer Weimerskirch’s initial statement claimed Boyd was turning before officers shot Boyd.
“I was in the most I mean helpless position,” Weimerskirch maintained. “I couldn’t react to that actual threat so, they did,” he added, referring to Sandy and Perez.
The K-9 handler was not holding a weapon when Boyd was shot, but prosecutors argued he could have reached for his gun if he felt Boyd was a deadly threat.
Earlier Monday in court, two APD Sergeants took the stand defending the shooting. One sergeant told the judge he would have shot Boyd, had he been in a lethal cover position.
“Numerous times he said that he would kill us, that we weren’t going to go home to our families tonight, that he hoped we were prepared to die,” Sergeant Richard Ingram, of the Albuquerque Police Department recalled.
The officers testified Boyd was very threatening and that all less lethal options had failed.
However, prosecutors pointed out that another nearby APD officer was providing lethal cover that day, and did not feel the need to shoot.
KRQE News 13 will be live streaming Tuesday’s closing arguments on KRQE.com. It’s unclear at this point how long the judge will take to decide if Sandy and Perez will go to trial on second degree murder or lesser charges, or have the charges dropped.