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Prosecution: Boyd's Killing Was Intentional

Juan Labreche / Associated Press
Associated Presss

In opening statements in the trial of two former Albuquerque police officers, prosecutor Randi McGinn said the death of homeless camper James Boyd in the Sandia Foothills was no accident or mistake. 

“It is an intentional killing,” she told the jury. There were 19 officers surrounding him, armed with guns and protective gear, not to mention dogs, mace and Taser shotguns, McGinn said.

“What was the crime that merited this kind of response?" she asked. "Illegal camping.”

McGinn said Boyd was scared, and over the course of a couple of hours, verbally threatened police like an animal baring its teeth when cornered. But some of what he said came true, she pointed out, like “APD is standing by to kill me,” or “This is what I get … murdered.”

Defense attorneys painted a picture of police saving the life of a colleague against an armed, aggressive, mentally ill man who could not be controlled. Luis Robles, who represents Dominique Perez, said Boyd and his folding knives posed a serious threat.

"This is not a case of David versus 19 Goliaths," Robles told the court. "That is to say, this is not a case of James Boyd versus 19 heavily harmed officers, as the state might suggest. It’s not that at all."

Two former police officers in Albuquerque are facing second-degree murder charges and up to 15 years behind bars for the on-the-job shooting in 2014. Lawyer Sam Bregman, who represents Keith Sandy, said his client had only one job that day: to protect the K-9 officer who followed his dog up the hill.

This is the only time in memory that police have faced these kinds of charges.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.