The city of Albuquerque will pay $5 million to the estate of a homeless man killed by police last year, though the city and its police department did not acknowledge fault, the Los Angeles Times reports. The payout announced Friday will settle the city's role in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed in federal court by the estate of James Boyd, a homeless and mentally ill man shot to death on March 16, 2014, in a confrontation with police that began as a complaint about Boyd camping illegally in the Sandia Mountains. The case sparked angry protests, strained relations between the region's top prosecutor and police and cast a harsh spotlight on a police department that critics said was out of control and prone to use force when it wasn't necessary.
In January, Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg proposed murder charges against Officer Dominique Perez and now-retired Det. Keith Sandy, but a judge ruled Brandenburg could no longer handle the case because of a conflict of interest. Special prosecutor Randi McGinn brought second-degree murder charges against Perez and Sandy in late June. Twenty-eight people have been shot to death by Albuquerque police over the last five years, a per capita rate eight times that of New York. The shootings have sparked protests across the city, and a U.S. Justice Department report in 2014 found excessive deadly force and “broken” oversight at the police department, particularly concerning its dealings with the mentally ill. Until the charges against Sandy and Perez, not a single officer had been charged in a shooting during the last 50 years.