Murder charges have been filed in a police shooting that sparked angry demonstrations in Albuquerque, NM, last year. Former Albuquerque police Detective Keith Sandy and SWAT team member Dominique Perez have been charged in the death of 38-year-old James Boyd, a mentally ill homeless man who was fatally shot after an hourslong standoff in the city's foothills last March, reports the Albuquerque Journal. Helmet camera video is expected to play a major role in the case. Video from an officer's camera appears to show Boyd, who was suspected of illegal camping, trying to surrender, but police say he was "unpredictably and dangerously close to a defenseless officer while he was wielding two knives," the AP reports.
The district attorney says she decided to file charges via a process called criminal information instead of going to a grand jury because she wanted "total transparency" in the case, reports the New York Times. "Unlike Ferguson and New York City, people will see the evidence and hear the witnesses," she says. The murder charges are open, giving prosecutors the option of pursuing manslaughter or first- or second-degree murder charges if a judge decides there's enough evidence. The president of New Mexico's Fraternal Order of Police says the charges are part of a national trend to distrust police and "it is time to stop second-guessing police officers," although a federal probe that began before the Boyd shooting found that Albuquerque police had a pattern of using "excessive and deadly force."