A graphic video that shows a police shooting of a homeless man in the Albuquerque foothills is raising a firestorm of controversy, and it’s not the first time police there have faced backlash over citizen shootings.
Hundreds have posted outraged comments online and a public protest of the Albuquerque Police Department is planned for Tuesday evening after police last week released the helmet-cam video, which shows officers shooting at a homeless man March 16 who they said was illegally camping, reports CBS affiliate KRQE.
In the video, the man, James Boyd, 38, appears to turn away before he is shot by police. Boyd later died. He was struck by at least one live round, but the medical investigator’s office hasn’t determined what killed him, reports the Albuquerque Journal.
According to an Albuquerque police spokeswoman, Boyd was carrying knives and threatening to kill the officers. But critics say the incident raises alarming questions about how Albuquerque police use deadly force.
“We’ve reviewed the video, and like many people who have seen it, we found it to be fairly disturbing,” Steve Allen, public policy director for the ACLU of New Mexico, told CBS News’ Crimesider. “It certainly does raise questions about why this tragedy couldn’t have been avoided.”
For critics, the police shooting is an all-too-common occurrence in Albuquerque. Boyd’s death marks the 22nd deadly police-involved shooting since early 2010, said Andrew Lipman, who chaired the city council’s Police Oversight Task Force.
Lipman’s 11-member task force released recommendations in January calling for the creation of a totally new and independent body to act as a citizen oversight group for police.
The task force also called Tuesday for an independent review of Boyd’s shooting.
“They’re viewing this man as kind of the enemy, in a combat situation, and that’s not really what they’re there to do — they’re there to ensure public safety,” Lipman said. “…This man lost his life because he was illegally camping.”
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