Albuquerque Pays $5 Million to Family of Homeless Man Killed by Police

City agrees to settlement with family of James Boyd, the homeless man killed by police in New Mexico city while in the process of surrendering

Albuquerque residents protest against police brutality in the city following the March 2015 death of James Boyd Credit: AP

The city of Albuquerque will pay $5 million to the family of James Boyd, a homeless man who was shot and killed by police in the New Mexico city in March 2014. Two police officers were charged with second-degree murder in the incident, which was captured on an officer's helmet camera. Video from the shooting showed Boyd, who was schizophrenic, in the process of surrendering after a long standoff when police opened fired on him. The officers charged in Boyd's death both face 15 years in prison; they have denied any wrongdoing, The Guardian reports.

Boyd's death was at the center of Rolling Stone's feature "When Cops Break Bad: Inside a Police Force Gone Wild," which documented how the Albuquerque police force had killed 28 people over a five-year period, a per-capita kill rate that was nearly double that of the Chicago police and eight times that of the NYPD. In the case of Boyd, the homeless man was illegally camping at the foot of the Sandia Mountains when police confronted him over the offense, a petty misdemeanor.

However, Boyd, who was schizophrenic, refused to cooperate with police and eventually brandished two small knives, resulting in a long standoff with over 40 police officers. When Boyd began to surrender after three hours, one officer threw a flash grenade at him, while another fired a Taser at Boyd and yet another released a police dog. When Boyd once again reached for his knives, police opened fire.

After Boyd was already incapacitated, an officer fired three more beanbag shotgun rounds at Boyd, and another police dog was unleashed on him. Police eventually handcuffed Boyd and he was finally transported to the hospital; he was pronounced dead at 2:55 a.m. after having his right arm amputated and portions of his lung and intestines removed during surgery to save his life.

While the Albuquerque police chief initially held a press conference saying that Boyd's death was justified, the footage from the helmet camera told another story. The Boyd family later sued Albuquerque in March 2015, and Boyd's death sparked protests in the city over the rash of police shootings.

“The family sought justice to ensure that what happened to Mr. Boyd never happens to anyone else, and they believe the city is taking necessary steps to ensure officers are provided adequate training, supervision and support and that Mr. Boyd’s death changes policing for the better in Albuquerque," Boyd family lawyer Shannon Kennedy said in a statement.