Shooting dead of homeless camper sparks outrage against Albuquerque police – the department that kills more people than the NYPD
Tuesday 01 April 2014
Captured by a video camera on one of the officer’s helmets, the slaying by Albuquerque police of a homeless camper in the foothills outside the city two weeks ago apparently leaves room for interpretation. The city says it was justifiable self-defence. To others it looked like extra-judicial execution.
The grisly clip, which is still viewable for anyone with a strong stomach, has an awful power all of its own. But it has also become the tragic totem of a wave of civic anger directed at the city’s heavily militarised police department that on Sunday erupted into hours of unrest across the downtown area, leading to serial arrests and a plea for calm from the city’s mayor who said his streets had turned to “mayhem”.
For James Boyd, the fury comes too late. With a long history of mental problems and episodes of violence, he was challenged by three officers on 16 March for camping in an unauthorised area near the city limits. They woke him from sleeping. A three-hour stand-off ensued until, at dusk, he is heard telling the officers he is done arguing and was “going to walk” with them. That is where the episode might have ended.