James Boyd: New Mexico officers to stand trial for murder in homeless man's death

Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy will go to trial for the fatal, on-duty shooting of James Boyd, which sparked angry protests in Albuquerque

Dominique Perez Keith Sandy

Albuquerque officer Dominique Perez, left, and former Albuquerque detective Keith Sandy, right, in court on 3 August 2015. Photograph: Russell Contreras/AP

A judge ruled Tuesday that two New Mexico police officers must stand trial on murder charges in the fatal, on-duty shooting of a homeless man that sparked angry protests in Albuquerque and helped lead police to overhaul use of force policies.

Pro tem judge Neil Candelaria said after a nearly two-week preliminary hearing that there was probable cause for the murder case against officer Dominique Perez and former detective Keith Sandy to go to trial.

Seven police officers around the country have faced murder charges for on-duty incidents since 2010. One was convicted of manslaughter and assault after a second-degree murder count was dropped. The rest are still in court proceedings.

In the New Mexico ruling, the judge threw out an involuntary manslaughter option. Asked by defense lawyer Sam Bregman what standard he used to justify probable cause, the judge said “what a reasonable police officer in that situation would do”. Special prosecutor Randi McGinn said during the hearing that Perez and Sandy came to the scene with the intent of attacking Boyd during a “paramilitary response”.