Prosecutors in Albuquerque, New Mexico are charging two police officers with murder in the shooting death of a homeless man with a history of mental illness last year.
James Boyd, 38, was killed last March during a confrontation with police while camping in a mountain area near Albuquerque. In a video of the incident taken by a camera mounted on another officer's helmet, Boyd appeared to be surrendering when he was shot. Albuquerque police officials say officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez opened fire because Boyd was wielding two knives while standing near another officer.
The officers each face a single count of open murder, which allows prosecutors to pursue a charge of either first or second-degree murder. A preliminary hearing will be held to determine whether the charges will stand.
The charges against the two officers come amid increased scrutiny of aggressive police tactics, especially against people of color. The deaths last year of two unarmed black men, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, after confrontations with white police officers in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City, led to massive protests after grand juries failed to indict the officers involved.
Kari Brandenburg, the district attorney who brought charges against the two Albuquerque officers, told reporters Monday that "unlike Ferguson and New York City" she will not take the case to a grand jury.
An investigation by the U.S. Justice Department found that since 2010, over 20 civilians had died in altercations with Albuquerque police officers due to excessive force. The Albuquerque police department has reached an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to submit to an independent monitor.