- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A special prosecutor reviewing the case of two Albuquerque police officers who have been charged with murder in the shooting death of a homeless man wants more ballistics testing to be done.

The scientific testing is to address defense attorneys’ question about which of the two officers fired the shot that may have killed him, attorney Randi McGinn said Wednesday.

Three bullets hit the man - two were fired by one officer. If the third - which hit him in the back - was also fired by him, it could determine if the other officer faces a lesser charge.

“Although the officer who fired this bullet might be identified through scene reconstruction, it is this bullet we are trying to identify with scientific testing by an outside expert,” McGinn said.

McGinn was tapped last month to prosecute officers Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy, who were charged this year in the March 2014 death of James Boyd during an hourslong standoff.

McGinn would not speculate on how the charges for either man would change depending on the results of the sophisticated testing to be done by another police department lab outside New Mexico.

Attorneys for the officers, who have denied wrongdoing, could not immediately be reached for comment. Authorities have said Boyd was camping illegally and threatened officers with two knives.

The outside ballistics analysis will also give the public more confidence in the investigation, she said.

“So, we’re hopeful the outside department can give us an opinion on whose rifle the bullet came out of,” McGinn said. “The best evidence if we can get it is through tool mark examination.”

Both officers were using the same AR 15 rifles and ammunition, but each has a distinct rifling pattern, she said. The third bullet is the only bullet that was recovered from the scene, with part of the jacket intact. The rifling pattern can be seen on the bullet and the jacket.

The second or the third bullet could have killed Boyd, said McGinn describing the bullets that struck the homeless man as follows:

The first bullet, fired by Sandy, struck Boyd as he was turning away from the officers and was a through and through shot of his left arm. The second shot, also fired by Sandy, struck him in the upper right arm, shattering his humerus and resulting in an amputation of that arm at the hospital to try and save his life.

The third bullet entered Boyd’s lower left back and traveled in an upward direction through his large intestine, spleen, diaphragm, left lung, and armpit, with the recovered bullet ending up in his upper left arm near his shoulder.

The testing could cause McGinn’s charging decision to be delayed by a couple of weeks.

The Boyd killing occurred during a year in which police use of force gained attention and prompted protests nationwide.

A status conference in the case is scheduled May 26.

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