- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A K-9 at the center of a tense standoff that ended when Albuquerque police shot a homeless man last year is being retired and may be put to sleep, authorities said Monday.

In video from the March 2014 shooting, the K-9 named Rex is seen running toward James Boyd, who police say suffered from mental illness, after the man was shot.

Boyd’s proximity to the Malinois’ handler, Officer Scott Weimerskirch, before the shooting in the Sandia Mountain foothills has become a key factor in the case that sparked violent protest in New Mexico’s largest city. Officer Dominique Perez and now-retired detective Keith Sandy have been charged in Boyd’s death and their trial is scheduled for next year.

Authorities will decide Rex’s fate after attorneys on both sides weigh in on whether he’s needed as they prepare to argue their cases.

Police spokeswoman Celina Espinoza said Rex’s time on the force is ending because Weimerskirch retired Friday. At 9 years old, she said, the dog is too old to bond, train and work with another handler in the department, where the average age at which a dog is retired is 7.

“You have to remember these dogs aren’t trained as family pets. It would not be worth his frustration to be bonded with another handler,” she said. “For him, it would be very daunting.”

She said Weimerskirch cannot keep the dog at home because he has a small child.

Rex became a police service dog in 2013, Espinoza said. For now, he is being held at a city animal shelter.

Special Prosecutor Randi McGinn said dogs typically are not used during trials.

Attorney Sam Bregman, who represents Sandy, said he had not considered whether the defense might need the dog.

During a pretrial hearing last month, Bregman questioned Weimerskirch from a platform in the courtroom, illustrating Boyd’s position in relation to officers during the tense standoff. Holding fake knives, Bregman asked if Boyd’s actions put officers in danger.

Boyd had dropped his bag and picked up two knives when officers detonated a flash bomb. He was turning away when he was shot, and he later died at a hospital.

Weimerskirch testified that Perez and Sandy saved his life by shooting Boyd.

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