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Fri Jan 30, 2015, 10:25 AM

When Cops Break Bad: Inside a Police Force Gone Wild


from Rolling Stone:


When Cops Break Bad: Inside a Police Force Gone Wild
Over the past five years, police in Albuquerque have shot and killed 28 people and brutalized many others

By Nick Pinto | January 29, 2015


Looking west from the scrub and boulders of the Sandia Mountains, the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, sprawls across the valley of the Rio Grande, surrounded by the vast openness of the high desert. On the city's eastern edge, the winding roads and cul-de-sacs of tony subdivisions in the Northeast Heights abruptly give way to the foothills of the mountains, whose sharp red peaks tower over the city.

On the afternoon of March 16th, 2014, Albuquerque police received a 911 call from this part of town, a man complaining that someone was illegally camping in the foothills. Two Albuquerque officers responded and, sure enough, encountered James Matthew Boyd, a 38-year-old homeless man who suffered from schizophrenia. Boyd was clearly not well, ranting, telling police that he was an agent for the Defense Department.

Unauthorized camping is a petty misdemeanor. The officers could have told Boyd to move along and left it at that. But as Officer John McDaniel approached, Boyd wouldn't show his hands and McDaniel drew his gun. When the officers moved to pat him down, Boyd pulled out two small knives; the cops stepped back and called for backup, setting off a spectacular circus, with as many as 40 police officers reportedly joining the standoff. Among them were uniformed cops and members of the SWAT team, the tactical K-9 unit and the Repeat Offender Project squad.

Not present, Boyd's family would later allege in a complaint, was anyone clearly in charge. Keeping Boyd surrounded, often with guns drawn, officers tried to get him to surrender his knives. Finally, after three hours, Boyd prepared to come down from the hills. "Don't worry about safety," he told the police. "I'm not a fucking murderer." But as Boyd packed his stuff, both hands full of possessions, Detective Keith Sandy who hours before, on arriving at the scene, boasted on tape that he was going to shoot "this fucking lunatic" with a Taser shotgun tossed a flash-bang grenade, a nonlethal weapon designed to disorient and distract. Another officer fired a Taser at Boyd, and a third released a police dog on him. Boyd drew his knives again. Advancing on him, officers ordered Boyd to get down on the ground. Boyd began to turn away, and Detective Sandy of the ROP squad and Officer Dominique Perez of the SWAT team each fired three live rounds at him, hitting him once in the back and twice in his arms. Boyd collapsed, face down, crying out that he was unable to move. "Please don't hurt me," he said. Another officer fired three beanbag rounds from a shotgun at Boyd's prone body. The K-9 officer again loosed his German shepherd on Boyd, and the dog tore into his legs. Finally, officers approached and handcuffed him.

......(snip)......

Albuquerque is hardly an outlier when it comes to police impunity. Brandenburg's announcement resonated far beyond New Mexico, as the pendulum seems to be swinging against police departments' use of violence to enforce the law. The U.S. Justice Department in the past five years has launched 22 investigations into civil rights violations by police departments more than twice the number it had begun in the previous five years. Surprisingly, there are no reliable national statistics on the hundreds of fatal police shootings each year, or how many officers have been charged and convicted for such killings. "My guess is that the number of criminal convictions of officers each year would be on the fingers of one hand," says Franklin Zimring, the William G. Simon Professor of Law at UC Berkeley. ................(more)

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/when-cops-break-bad-albuquerque-police-force-gone-wild-20150129#ixzz3QJZwOjm0



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