In a nearly unprecedented move on the part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the agency announced that it would be conducting an investigation into what some are calling the unjustified shooting death of a homeless camper by the Albuquerque (N. M.) Police Department on March 16. Oddly, the camper shooting investigation revolves around a man who was claiming to be a federal agent when he eventually surrendered to police and was subsequently shot and killed.
In what the Associated Press referred to (via Yahoo News) March 28 as "a rare statement about its actions," the FBI said it would investigate the fatal March 16 shooting of 38-year-old James Boyd to "assure the public that a thorough and fair investigation will be conducted." The incident occurred as Albuquerque police find themselves already under federal scrutiny. The FBI launched a civil rights probe more than a year ago to determine the veracity of allegations of the department using excessive force as well as the disturbing statistic that 37 shooting incidents had occurred since 2010. Of those, 23 were fatal.
The latest incident, which was caught on video, comes after an outpouring of outrage from concerned citizenry due to not just that the homeless camper was shot, but that it appears that the man had apparently surrendered to police and was complying with their demands when the shooting took place and he was killed. The camper shooting incident is the first confirmed criminal investigation against the Albuquerque Police Department.
The video, which was taken from a helmet-cam, shows James Boyd in a stand-off with several members of Albuquerque police, some armed with tasers, others armed with stun guns and firearms -- all of which were pointed at the homeless man. Boyd, according to police, had held off officers for four hours at an illegal camp site with a small knife, threatening to kill them, before agreeing to exit the Sandia foothills with the police. After gathering some possessions and taking a single step toward the waiting policemen, Boyd was shot with bean bags, taser rounds, and six live rounds.
According to The Inquistr, the video surfaced last week. It showed that police also threw a flash grenade toward the homeless man. He then appeared disoriented and confused and it was suggested that perhaps he couldn't hear the orders police were directing his way.
Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry, after seeing the video himself, called the shooting "horrific," according to a separate Associated Press report.
Protests sparked by the camper shooting video and calling for justice for Boyd filled the streets of Albuquerque Tuesday, the protesters blocking traffic in many areas.
The Inquistr also reported that just hours after those protests, another man was shot and killed by Albuquerque police officers. Law enforcement opened fire on Alfred “Lionel” Redwine who, according to the 911 call that summoned the police, was pointing a gun at two young girls.
The Albuquerque Police Department is currently being investigated by five different agencies.