- Associated Press - Monday, September 29, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - An Albuquerque police officer who fatally shot a homeless camper vowed before the deadly encounter he would shoot the suspect with a stun gun, according to a New Mexico State police sergeant’s interview released by city officials Monday.

The interview contradicts allegations and previous reports that Albuquerque police officer Keith Sandy told New Mexico State Police Sgt. Chris Ware he was going to shoot the camper in a private part.

Ware told investigators Sandy said, “I’m going to shoot him with a Taser shotgun in a second.” Hours later Sandy was one of two officers who shot and killed James Boyd, 38, following an hours-long standoff in March.

Video of the shooting, and more than three dozen police shootings since 2010, later generated violent protests in Albuquerque and FBI then launched an investigation into the Boyd case. In the video, Boyd, who authorities said suffered from mental illness, appeared to be surrendering from his Sandia foothills campsite when officers opened fire.

An autopsy report released in May said Boyd was shot in the back, had multiple emergency surgeries and had his arm amputated before he died.

According to the audio of the conversation between Ware and Sandy, the Albuquerque officer calls Boyd a “lunatic” and is heard saying he’s going to shoot him. But it’s unclear if he said “Taser” or referred to a private part.

However, Shannon Kennedy, a lawyer representing the family of Boyd in a lawsuit against the city, said it was “crystal clear” to her that Sandy said in the audio he was going to shoot Boyd in a private part. “What’s important is that two hours before he shoots James Boyd he says he’s going to shoot him,” Kennedy said.

In addition, Kennedy said an internal affair report obtained by her law firm in the lawsuit showed that Sandy admitting saying he was going to shoot Boyd in a male organ.

“And jokingly, just kind of locker room banter, just told (Ware), you know, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll shoot him in the (expletive) with this and call it good’,” Sandy told investigators, according to the internal affairs report.

Sandy then later recanted in the interview and said he didn’t remember saying he’d shoot Boyd in a private part.

Albuquerque Police Chief Gordon Eden declined to address the recording in a statement but said the department was fully cooperating with the FBI with its criminal investigation into the shooting. “Myself as chief or any official from the city cannot provide any comment or interpretation of this evidence that is currently under federal investigation,” Eden said.

The audio comes as the city of Albuquerque and Justice Department are finalizing a plan for police reforms following a harsh report over excess force.


Follow Russell Contreras at https://twitter.com/russcontreras.

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