Albuquerque to pay $5M to settle lawsuit in police shooting

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The city has agreed to pay $5 million to the family of a homeless man who was fatally shot by Albuquerque officers last year in a case that has helped fuel major reforms within the police force.

The settlement was announced Friday by an attorney representing the family of James Boyd, who was killed during a March 2014 standoff in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains where he had been illegally camping.

At one point during the hours-long incident, Boyd pulled out two knives and threatened to kill officers. Video from an officer’s helmet camera showed police fired on Boyd, who authorities say was schizophrenic, as he appeared to be preparing to surrender.

The incident sparked angry demonstrations around Albuquerque, with protesters calling for reform after numerous police shootings.

Boyd’s family filed a lawsuit in June 2014.

A special prosecutor announced last month that two police officers will be charged with second-degree murder in the case. The two officers have denied any wrongdoing, but each could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Even before Boyd’s death, the U.S. Justice Department had been investigating the Albuquerque Police Department over allegations of excessive force. Federal officials harshly criticized the department but reached an agreement with the city to improve training and dismantle troubled units.

Shannon Kennedy, a lawyer who represented the Boyd family in the lawsuit, said in a statement that “the family sought justice to ensure that what happened to Mr. Boyd never happens to anyone else, and they believe the city is taking necessary steps to ensure officers are provided adequate training, supervision and support and that Mr. Boyd’s death changes policing for the better in Albuquerque.”

Albuquerque’s chief administrative officer confirmed the lawsuit’s settlement, but there was no immediate comment Friday from city officials on the case.

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