Special Prosecutor Randi Mc Ginn has decided to drop murder charges against former APD Police Officer Dominique Perez. She has also decided not to drop charges against his co defendant retired Police Officer Keith Sandy, deciding to let newly elected Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez make that decision.
Both APD Officers were charged with the murder of homeless and mentally ill camper James Boyd in a 2014 standoff in the Sandia Foothills. The James Boyd case is the very shooting Chief Gordon Eden called justified the day after it occurred in a press conference. The City of Albuquerque paid $5 million dollars to settle the civil lawsuit filed by the Boyd family.
The criminal trial ended in a mistrial with the jury deadlocking by voting 3 to find guilt and 9 voting to find not guilty of murder.
Special Prosecutor Randi Mc Ginn said “it was “the right thing to do” in dismissing the case against Dominique Perez. It would also be the right thing to do to dismiss the case against Keith Sandy. Justice has been served with the trial even if you disagree with the outcome.
THE PROCESS FOLLOWED IN DECIDING ON A NEW TRIAL
I am a former Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney who has prosecuted violent crime cases, including murder and rape cases.
A prosecutor is required to go through a very difficult and lengthy process of review and deliberation to decide to dismiss a case after a jury “dead locks” and cannot reach a verdict of “guilty” or “not guilty”.
The prosecutor must determine what is right and if justice will be served with a new trial.
The process includes reviewing all the physical and forensic evidence and testimony presented at the trial, determining if anything was missed, and then deciding whether the outcome could be any different presenting the same evidence during a new trial before a different jury. If “new evidence” somehow surfaces after the trial, a decision must be made whether that “new evidence” will make any difference to a different jury.
McGinn had said there was new evidence brought to her attention after the trial. Any “new evidence” discovered must be compelling and convincing enough to change an outcome of a trial.
The prosecutor will confer with victims or members of a deceased victim’s family’s of a crime to get their input on a new trial. The prosecutor will also confer with the witnesses to determine if their testimony will change.
If a victim or a victim’s family members were witnesses in a case, a decision must also be made whether to put them through an ordeal of another trial.
A new trial is also a financial decision. Simply put, will a new trial be too great of a burden on the resources of a prosecuting agency to the extent that it will affect other cases in the office?
Ultimately, the biggest determining factor is “will justice be served with a new trial”.
JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED
This was a case that needed to be charged and needed to be tried because police officers must be held to a higher standard and they cannot be above the law, any time.
Police Officers cannot be allowed to break the very laws they are sworn to enforce, and there are times that only a jury must make that decision.
During the last 7 years, Albuquerque has had 41 police officer involved shootings with close to $50 million dollars paid out in settlements for police misconduct cases and the use of deadly force cases.
Many of the deadly force cases settled involved the mentally ill. The Albuquerque Police Department is under a federal consent decree after a finding of a “culture of aggression”. New policies and training are being implemented by APD to deal with crisis intervention and the mentally ill.
If we have learned a single thing during the last 7 years as a community, it should be that deadly force cases and excessive use force cases by police officers must be, without any exception, justified.
I watched the the trial by “live stream” provided by a TV station. I believe justice has been served with the criminal trial of Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy. Both were afforded due process of law and given a fair trial. Both the prosecution and the defense did an exceptional job in presenting their cases.
It is not likely that a new trial of Keith Sandy will be any different, it probably will result in another dead locked jury or for that matter a verdict of not guilty.
I worked with special prosecutor Randi Mc Ginn in the District Attorney’s office violent crimes division over 30 years ago, know her well and respect her trial skills. I trust her judgment. I am confident that she has evaluated the case.
Mc Ginn in a TV interview immediately after the trial acknowledged the outcome was probably the best that could have been expected under the circumstances.
It would be the right thing to do to dismiss the case against Keith Sandy.
Justice has been served with the trial and the jury verdict as is.
APD is in the middle of a reform process relating to its use of force and use of deadly force policies, and hopefully lessons have been learned by APD from this very difficult case that was so divisive to our community.