US & Canada

Albuquerque police charged in homeless killing

Police officers point their guns at a camper Image copyright Albuquerque Police Department
Image caption Footage of the shooting emerged after a public records request

Two police officers in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will face charges for killing a homeless camper, their lawyers say.

Former detective Keith Sandy and officer Dominique Perez will face a murder charge in the death of James Boyd, 38.

Their lawyers argued the two will be cleared of wrongdoing.

The fatal shooting in March last year sparked city protests, some violent, and came amid a federal investigation into the police department's practices.

A year-long US investigation found Albuquerque police had inappropriately killed suspects and used more force on those with mental illnesses.

Protests against the city's police department happened before nationwide protests over the shooting deaths of unarmed black men and women by police in various US cities.

The Albuquerque police department has had more than three dozen police shootings since 2010.

The justice department ordered the city to reduce the use of deadly force in April, but another woman suspected of stealing a lorry was shot and killed weeks later.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Between 2010 and 2014, 25 people were killed by Albuquerque police officers

Boyd was killed in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains on the east side of Albuquerque following a stand-off.

Protests against Boyd's killing occurred after a video emerged of police shooting him, filmed from a helmet camera.

In the video, Boyd appears to be surrendering when police shoot a stun grenade at him.

After the smoke clears, Boyd holds two small knives in his hands and police shoot him several times after yelling at him to get on the ground.

Police then tell him to put his hands out to the side and drop the knife, to which Boyd replies he can't move.

Lawyers for Mr Sandy and Mr Perez were confident their clients had done nothing wrong.

"To the contrary, he followed his training and probably saved his fellow officer's life," said Sam Bregman, Mr Sandy's lawyer.

Luis Robles, Mr Perez's lawyer, said he was "confident that the facts will vindicate Officer Perez's actions in this case".

City officials recently signed an agreement with the justice department that requires police to provide better training for officers and dismantle troubled police units.

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