Death in Albuquerque: Will Justice be Served?

Patient Expert

Warning: This piece has disturbing content. Please feel free to take a news break from this blog …

Yesterday, various news outlets reported that two Albuquerque police officers will face charges of second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and battery in connection with the March 2014 shooting death of James Boyd, a homeless man with a history of schizophrenia.

Police responded to a report of a man illegally camping in the desert. A police video shows a police dog charging into Mr Boyd as officers detonated a flash bomb and shot him in the back and the side as he was running away. The police justified the shooting on the basis of two knives Mr Boyd had pulled.

According to additional footage from a dash cam, one of the officers who fired shots, on arriving on the scene, told a fellow officer: "For this f***ing lunatic?  I’m going to shoot him in the penis with a shotgun here in a second.”

Since 2010, there have been more than 40 police shootings in Albuquerque, 30 of them fatal. Albuquerque police violence has been the object of an investigation by the US Justice Department, which released a scathing report just prior to the shooting.

Soon after, both the report and the shooting were overshadowed by events in Ferguson and elsewhere. These involved police violence against African-Americans.

But the public also needs to pay attention to the mentally ill. As I reported last year, citing a 2012 piece on Salon.com, “at least half of the estimated 375 to 500 people shot and killed by police each year in this country have mental health problems.”

Doing my own number crunching, I came to the conclusion that police execute the mentally ill at double the rate of lynchings in the South around the turn of the twentieth century. “Why is there no public outcry?” I asked.

I repeat my question: “Why is there no public outcry?”

Further reading …

Police Shootings - A Growing Problem

Police Violence

The Psychology of Authority