It has been reported that former APD Police Officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez will not face another trial for the killing of homeless camper James Boyd with charges dismissed. (See February 25, 2017 Albuquerque Journal “DA: Perez ,Sandy will not face retrial; DA says second trial would likely not have a different result”, page A-1)
As a former Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney who has prosecuted violent crime cases, including murder and rape cases, I believe it was “the right thing to do” to dismiss the charges against Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez after a deadlocked jury could not reach a verdict.
Justice was served with the preliminary hearing and original trial even if you disagree with the outcome and this is how our judicial system works with the presumption of innocence and the state having to prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” to a jury.
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.
The prosecutor will confer with victims or members of a deceased victim’s family 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.
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”.
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 trial by “live stream” provided by a TV station.
I believe justice has been served with the preliminary hearing and 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.
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.