The death of a homeless man in New Mexico has come under question as the circumstances circling the case are quite unclear. The controversy was only stoked more after a video from a police officer’s helmet cam was released showing that police weren’t in any immediate danger.
The video kicks on as James Boyd, 38, was speaking with police officers who had him surrounded with their weapons drawn. What happened up until that point is unclear, but it seemed that Boyd was being compliant with police despite initial resistance. Apparently being arrest for sleeping in an illegal location, the rest of the video is quite shocking.
As he was ordered to gather his things and walk with police, Boyd stated that he was going to get his belongings and walk down per their orders. As he turned around, it appears as if officers were readying themselves for a pre-planned attack.
Boyd, unaware of the officers’ actions, bent down to pick up his bag, and when he turned around one officer was heard saying, “do it.” A flash bang was hurled at Boyd and the K-9 unit was also released sending Boyd running out of fear.
For an undisclosed reason, police then opened fire on Boyd, sending him to the ground. The footage continues as the helpless man is heard saying, “Please don’t hurt me anymore. I can’t move.” Despite his pleas, police shouted for the man to drop the knife and place his hands out to the side.
Boyd then fell unconscious where police were heard still shouting their demands and ultimately firing three more bean bag rounds into the man’s hindquarters. As they acknowledge they weren’t having an effect on him, they released the dog again, who chomped, and begins to shake, Boyd’s limp leg.
The officers then realized that he was unconscious and went in, took away the two knives they discovered him to have, and placed him in cuffs. Boyd later died due to the injuries he sustained from the incident.
Police Chief Gordon Eden later relayed that the officers had used non-lethal rounds as they knew the man was typically violent. According to Eden, “All of his charges have been violent,” and the fact that Boyd had made a threatening advance meant that his officers were justified in their shooting.
This however, doesn’t seem to be quite accurate according to the video as it shows no such movement on Boyd’s part.
Along with this, one round that was fired happened to be a lethal bullet as well, although this hasn’t been definitively ruled Boyd’s cause of death as of yet. It seems that they may have preemptively acted in order to ensure their safety.
It should however be noted that as Boyd did have a knife in each hand, he did present a clear and present danger to police and the standoff had been going on for three hours previous to the video. Along with this, Boyd has a long history of mental illness, a fact that police were aware of.
Later described by police were some facts that happened prior to the video. They first stated that Boyd had pulled two knives from his bag that he was intent on using according to his own words. Boyd was heard saying, “I’m almost going to kill you right now. Don’t give me another directive. Don’t attempt to give me, the Department of Defense, another directive.”
Further threatening officers, he added, “In a private world, if you were down at a bar or a bus stop, I would have the right to kill you right now because you’re trying to take me over.” He continued by saying, “Don’t get stupid with me…Don’t change up the agreement. I’m going to try to walk with you.”
It seems that the whole situation was blown out of proportion, both during and after the event, and the incomplete video only added to inaccurate public speculation and condemnation. Knowing all the facts now, what do you think? Did police have the right to use the force they did? Let us know in a comment below.
(H/t: Daily News)