tv Fault Lines Al Jazeera April 11, 2016 9:30pm-10:01pm EDT
i'm ali velshi, thank you for joining us. >> albuquerque. >> the initial call out to the police came out talking about a suspicious man who is legally. >> the man was 38-year-old, he was homeless and mentally ill. one of the officers on the scene was detective keith sandy, he caught sandy saying this to
another officer. >> detective sandy was one of a dos officers from various different units who is would show up and then say afterwards no one at the scene seemed to know who was in charge. >> a stand off began. it would last several hours. the police claimed he threatened them with his pocketknife. the final few minutes were caught on this police body cam. with boyd seemingly, the police throw a flash hand grenade.
[ yelling ] >> get on the ground. >> the response boyd takes out his knives. [ gunfire ] he was hit three times. once in the back. this video sparked national attention and the officers who fired to be convicted of murder. but it has raised larger questions. what sort of culture let this police force to become one of its most violent in the country. [ sirens ]
>> since 2010 albuquerque police department has shot more than 40 people. the police here have held one of the highest rates in the u.s. in the case of boyd, the city paid $5 million so the family after a civil lawsuit. this is the opening session of the hearing to determine whether the shooters, keith sandy, and dominic perez, will face a criminal trial. >> do you wish to make a statement? >> we, do your honor. >> after boyd's death there was a scathing report on the police. it highlighted patterns of excessive force and culture of aggress. >> those 19 the officers had 19
auto or semi auto weapons. among them they had 737 rounds of ammunition. >> this is the first time in decades that an apd shooting has led to criminal proceedings against an officer. yet the city has paid tens of millions of dollars bringing lawsuits against the police. the families say many of the officers involved have escaped scrutiny and remain on the force. officers they say should never have been allowed to join in the first place. 2011, two apd detectives came to this house to speak to 27-year-old christopher torrid. his parents rushed home after
receiving a call from the neighbor. >> the crime lab was here. the personnel carrier was here. there were officers up and down the street, perched on rooftops. i'm thinking what in the world is going on? >> christopher was schizophrenic and had been home alone. somebody had been taken away in an ambulance. >> i started calling the local hospitals to see if christopher was in any of the emergency rooms. and when i found out he wasn't, well, of course, i--i started to suspect the worst. >> christopher about i don't know shot dead in the backyard by detectives. the officers said they had come to serve a month's old arrest warrant for a rage incident.
he refused. they came towards christopher. this is what he looked like that day. the plain clothes officers claimed they identified themselves, and they said christopher, who was unarmed, managed to get ahold of one of their guns in the scuffle. >> they jumped him and got on top of him. it all happened really quickly. i'm sure christopher didn't know what was happening. >> what was the scene like when you got there? was there signs of a struggle? >> you could see that things were in disarray over here. and and you could see a pool of blood. >> that must have been an incredibly dram traumatic. >> it was. >> ultimately, the judge in the
civil case found that the police story was not credible, and it's not an isolated incident. >> there would be a rush when it came to shootings to do everything that could be done to make sure that it's--that whatever piece of lies they can put their hands on to say it was justified. >> he has been speaking out against the department. >> the officer involved in the shooting has a very bad reputation amongst the officers. and then nothing happens to them. to us, to a lot of cops out there, that starts smelling really bad. >> you start wondering what's the culture like? what happening. >> steve tate, an apd lieutenant left in 2006. he began to pay attention to the patterns in the years that
followed. >> i would just hear through people i trusted that some of the internal affairs investigations didn't look good as far as they weren't complete. they didn't have the detail, the objectivity. >> families lawyers say that the apd did an investigation into the killings. the city paid them $6 million in a civil suit. neither officer faced any disciplinary action. detective brown remained on the force to this day. >> the officers--and we do, there is a significant number, a significant number who feel that they can do whatever they want, and that they won't face any consequences, and in fact,, they'll be rewarded for ex-successive use of force.
>> the day james boyd was shot the prosecution said that keith sandy called his own team to the scene without telling supervisors. >> why did the shooting team arrive? it's because of keith sandy. >> the defense pointed to boyd's behavior. >> it's the facts that you're going to hear are about two officers following their training seeing a fellow officer is in jeopardy being hurt or
killed by a crazy man with two knives, which he was. >> the state's case focused on his actions. >> apd's lowered standards in 2007. he was hired by apd. >> in albuquerque has spent a lot of time looking into sandy's previous history. shannon kennedy represented boyd's family in a civil case against the department. >> i believe if sandy had not been on the scene that day, matthew boyd would still be alive. >> kennedy said in 2007 the city's former mayor had promised to beef up police numbers for political gain. apd lowered their stats and took in cops with questionable records. >> he didn't have time to independent psychiatric
evaluation and had been fired for a timecard fraud. he had engaged in conduct that was criminal, that was dishonest, and even having done that, he is hired by apd. >> the year 2007 is a year we kept hearing during that time in albuquerque. it was the same year that the officer who shot christopher torres c.j. brown was hired. at another law firm a few blocks away we heard a similar story about brown. one had been by the apd and twice by another department before 2007. >> the first test the application discontinued because of attitude. >> because of attitude. >> kathy love represented the torres family in their civil lawsuit. love and her team looked into brown's record at previous job,
roz well polic roswell police department. >> there was complaints about behavior. there was a man being pulled over for routine traffic stop but didn't get out of his car fast enough for the officer, and department brown pulled his gun on him. and another incident in roswell leads to the same conclusion that if you put it all together, this guy who couldn't patrol his temper. and you abd hired him any way. >> they denied our requests to speak with officer brown. out the officers hired in 2011, 11 went on to shooting between 2011 and 2015. that's almost twice the number. even on the inside there was alarm of those getting hired.
>> and it got to the point that they were such horrible officers. they had such a record of discipline that allegations and misconduct. but nothing ever really came to correct that behavior. >> so if you've indicated in your three, four, five retainers that you've worked for an agency that you don't have th good moral. you can't keep composure of your emotions and you've been dismissed because of conduct, why would we hire? why would the citizens of albuquerque want us to hire those types of officers? >> just a month after brown killed christopher torres another officer from the 2007 class would fatally shoot a resident. mike gomez had spent his life in albuquerque.
his firs time coming down on the shooting. >> he was coming down. >> he was coming down. >> you could see officers, they were deployed a flash bag. >> this whole incident of boyd reminds me of what happened to my son, you know. it's just so typical of what we've been going through here in albuquerque. all of this. >> mike's 22-year-old son, alan gomez, had struggled with substance abuse for many years. >> i have three kids. alan is my youngest. this is my 50th birthday. >> alan is on the right? >> alan is there. that's eric, that's natalie. that's me. >> one night when mike was out of town he woke up to a message from his elder son eric. >> i see a voice mail.
and it's my son just crying, dad, dad, you got to call me, you got to call me. >> alan had relapsed and taken drugs that night. he started acting erratically. shot a gun twice in the air and refused to let eric to leave the house. according to mike. eric called his girlfriend to call 911. >> he was thinking that he was getting helpor his brother. he wasn't afraid for himself, but because he had never seen his brother act like that before. >> late night cops surrounded the house and tried to negotiate with alan for almost an hour.
>> come out now. >> according to a department of justice investigation, the police came in with no incident. but a s.w.a.t. officer claimed he saw a gun in alan's hands. when alan ignored calls to surrender. [ gunfire ] [ yelling ] >> he fatally shot alan in the back with his rifle. >> alan was unarmed. the gun he had previously had was found in the hall closet. the d.o.j. investigation showed that he did not pose an immediate threat and found the shooting to be unjustified.
>> he said that no one has ever call him from the police department regarding alan's death. >> here's the scene i had to go into. >> even today almost five years later mike says it's hard to think about that night. i just--you know, it's hard to describe your whole body just fall. it goes right through you, and you feel like you've hit the ground, your soul. >> and eric, how is he holding up? >> oh, that's another story. devastated. he told me, dad, you know, a big brother is supposed to take care of their little brother. they're not supposed to have them killed. that was kind of hard. >> mike won almost $1 million in
wrongful death shooting. >> oh, i blame myself. >> he would spearhead a movement to bring the department of justice to address what he says is a police department where officers face no accountability. >> they come in here knowing, hey, we can shoot anybody and get away with it. our badge is a license to kill.
>> the streets of albuquerque, the reputation of this city's department is in tatters. while ferguson erupted, many here felt the police department was going broke. >> we have determined that there is reasonable cause to believe that the albuquerque police department engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including the use of unreasonable deadly force. >> but the d.o.j. did not investigate the apd's hiring practice, and some residents says that there does not seem to
be much action from those in charge. >> we have a pattern of practice that stretches back three generations in this city. what makes us think that we're going to finally solve this problem? >> david has been researching apd for decades. he says much of the d.o.j. process has remained private, and the promises for real change are worthless. there is no accountability. >> the public servants in the course of their jobs make it different. therefore we have to treat them differently and hold them to a higher level of accountability as a community. >> the absence of any kind of accountability held upon the leaders or any supervisors in theory in these incidents that are so sensational, the absence of any accountability speaks so loudly. >> do you think there is a
political will here to change the apd? >> no, zero. the proof is in the pudding. they've not done anything other than politically cover their rear end. >> he had been requested to speak to the local d.o.j. as far as. >> this an al jazeera america. we're in town in albuquerque. we would like to get an interview with anybody from d.o.j. >> d.o.j. is very strict. >> if you could give me a call back i would appreciate it. >> no one in the office would agree to an interview. in the end we tried to catch the police chief in person at a local council meeting. >> chief, i'm from al jazeera america. we've been trying to get an interview with you for weeks now. >> no, i don't think.
go through the proper channels. >> can you explain why nobody from your department has been disciplined. just would like to get a--may i just quickly ask the chief. we've been asking for months for an interview now. >> we followed up as directed, but no one ever got back to us. the city says it continues to work with the d.o.j. to enact police reforms. in 2015 fewer fatal shootings by the apd. to this day many residents say there has been little official acknowledgment that there is even a problem within the department. >> the problem is not to actually resolve the problem of his violence but to resolve the outrage of police violence. it diffuses the anger and let's the police department to return slowly to what it's always been. i mean to what it's always been. >> i'm extremely conflicted for
why we're here. we're here today because james matthew boyd-- >> it's been two years since james boyd's death. but his legacy lives on in albuquerque. before leaving town we attended a memorial where eric andrew was speaking. >> my brother was very important to me growing up. hit's been a really hard time having to deal with things were handled. because of that i don't think it is complete tragedy, but an eye opener for this city to do the right thing. >> keith sandy and the other officer who shot boyd, but andrew said that the real problem lies elsewhere.
>> he wants to talk about my brother having a rap sheet, and he has a rap sheet of himself. >> keith sandy retired with pension from the apd. while he facing murder, it is rare for a police officer to face charge of murder. he wants reforms to come from his brother's death. >> i don't know if i'll ever exactly come to terms with what has happened. i've learned to accept it. that's why i try to do all i can do make a difference. i don't want his death to be worthless. >> andrew had lost contact with james for years before finding him in albuquerque. in high school he promised his brother he would name his son after him. this is the boy, but he never got the chance to meet the uncle
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