Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Public Clamor Over APD Killing of Homeless James Boyd Goes To Streets Today; Protest At 6 PM; Mayor Berry Finally Comments On Shooting, Plus: Impact Of APD On Future Mayoral Hopefuls  

Numbers are important to politicians so they will be watching very keenly for how many people turn out at 6 p.m. tonight for the protest over the APD shooting of 38 year old homeless James Boyd. The protest will start at the Alvarado Transportation Center at Central and 1st and then march to APD headquarters, also downtown.

The dramatic and shocking APD video of Boyd being gunned down in the Sandia Mountain foothills has gone viral on YouTube with views totaling well over 150,000. (You wonder if the deciders in the Tesla gigafactory deal were among those watching the spectacle).

Pressure is building on the Justice Department to get involved in the Boyd killing by making it part of its ongoing civil rights investigation of APD. Activists will meet Wednesday afternoon with Justice representatives to press their case for that and more.

Mayor Berry was in Arizona with his son for a spring break vacation when the mayhem broke out over APD. His decision to not comment on the case for an entire week revealed what many see as a leadership vacuum on the 11th floor of City Hall. He was re-elected in October by a landslide margin. Would he have won over Pete Dinelli if the Boyd shooting happened in September? Hmmm....

Amid growing public clamor, Berry gave his first interviews and called the shooting "horrific." He threw his new police chief under the bus, saying Chief Eden made "a mistake" when he called the killing "justified." You wonder how long Eden will be around?

And Berry had it right when he said the feds should investigate the Boyd shooting. But the answer, as one wag put it, "was a week late. "

Those seeking major reform of the deeply troubled APD are hoping for a bidding war among the politicos--meaning that they try to outdo one another with reform measures instead of following their years-long playbook of staying out of the fray or even denying there's a major cultural problem at APD.

The two city councilors positioning themselves for a mayoral run in 2017 are current council president Ken Sanchez, a Democrat, and westside GOP Councilor Dan Lewis.

Although the council has been roundly criticized for standing idly by while dozens of police shootings forced the US Justice Department to launch a civil rights investigation, supporters of Lewis say he was the first councilor to call for a DOJ investigation, the first to call on then-APD Chief Schultz to resign and the first to propose stiffer oversight.

Sanchez swung harder at the ball this weekend than in the previous three years, saying he "may" ask the city council to call for having the Justice department oversee APD.

But both Lewis and Sanchez are vulnerable to any new leadership that appears and pledges a more activist approach. The councilor will be accused--probably effectively--of cowering from public sight during repeated APD mishaps during their tenure and failing to end the dysfunction that has now shoved the problem into the national spotlight.

As for Mayor Berry, how do you supposes he gets to higher elective office when he has to climb over the corpse of Boyd and the many others who have lost their lives in police shootings?


Longtime ABQ Journal columnist Jim Belshaw--now retired--has comments on the portion of the Boyd video in which an officer says "booyah" immediately after shooting the homeless man accused of illegal camping. APD says the exclamation was a command to the police canine at the scene:

I was an Air Force K-9 handler for about six years. "Booyah" is a dog command with which I am not familiar. The moment I saw that stomach-churning photo, my first thought was this: "APD didn't just shoot this man. They executed him."

I can't pinpoint the date, but it has been many years since I looked at cops and it occurred to me that they no longer looked like police officers. They looked like grunts in the 101st Airborne, and soon they were acting like it; and now all over America, we have Podunk USA police departments using buckets of Homeland Security money to buy vehicles that are more tank than police vehicle. But then if you're going to dress up like Army grunts, I suppose it follows that you'd need a tank, too. Albuquerque is not alone in this mess. We've got ourselves a hell of a societal problem.

As for Mayor Berry, CAO Perry, the City Council, et al, I'd say they should be ashamed of themselves, but I don't think shame enters their minds. Honestly, I don't know how these people live with themselves.

Thanks, Jim. We need to get you out of retirement and back on the beat.


A reader writes:

"APD might as well have given this guy a blindfold and a cigarette before they did him. It was like an execution."


ABQ's Thomas Grover comes with more of our continuing blog coverage of the big story:

In the wake of Chief Eden's bizarre remark that the shooting of Boyd was justified, Chief Administrative Officer  Rob Perry rushed in to clarify some of Eden's ambiguities. Perry stated:

"This case was an incredibly dynamic situation that involved a standoff for four hours with an individual that had a history of mental instability, threats of violence against police officers…and numerous attempts to end the situation peacefully. At the end of the day, a determination about the justification of use of force by law enforcement, officer safety considerations and legal determinations are made by those people who are responsible to make them.” 

The Mayor has corrected Eden for calling the shooting justified and now he needs to correct Perry as well. 

It was hardly a dynamic situation. It was a stalemate for four hours. They woke the guy up, they lied to the guy, they threw a bomb at the guy, they unleashed a dog at the guy, they tased the guy, then they shot him, then they bean bagged him, then they let the dog chew on him. There is no defense of this. 


A reader writes:

Well, we see that the Mayor finally came out with a statement on the foothills shooting. The good Mayor is a bit like the leader in the French Revolution who said: "There go my people. I must find out where they are going so that I can lead them." That is what passes as political leadership in New Mexico these days.


Dem Guv candidate Lawrence Rael released an automatic phone poll he had conducted March 13--a couple days after the Dem preprimary convention--and to no one;s surprise well-known Gary King was in the lead. King garnered 26.6%, Rael had 21.5%, Howie Morales came with 12.0%, Linda Lopez 10.2% and Alan Webber 9.9%. Undecided came in at around 20%, but that was after an undecided voter was asked what candidate he "leaned toward. The full polling memo is here.

 King came in last at the preprimary. Morales came in first, Webber second and Rael third. King and Lopez failed to get 20 percent of the delegate support to get an automatic spot on the ballot. They filed extra petition signatures to get on the June 3 ballot. The poll was done by Republican Bruce Donishthorpe of 888 likely Dem primary voters.The real first poll in the Dem Guv race is April 14th when candidates file their money reports.


A court hearing is schedule for this afternoon on a challenge filed in McKinley County District Court over the petition signatures filed by renegade Dem State Rep. Sandra Jeff. If the ruling goes against her, she will have five days to appeal.

And let's clarify our first post on this story. A spokesperson for the environmental group Conservation Voters NM says we were wrongfully informed by the group that they had filed the suit. Environmental activist Larry King filed the suit and CVNM is paying the legal bills. CVNM also adds it is not filing against Jeff because of her environmental record but because she submitted bad signatures.

As we've blogged repeatedly, Jeff is a key swing vote in the state House because it is narrowly divided and she sometimes votes with the R's.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.      

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign