ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A specialized Albuquerque police unit trained to defuse dangerous encounters with suspects battling mental illness was not used in the March 16 police shooting of a homeless man, advocates said.
Barri Roberts, executive director of the Bernalillo County Forensic Intervention Consortium, said police told advocates at a meeting last week that the department’s Crisis Intervention Team played no role during the long standoff with 38-year-old James Boyd, Albuquerque Journal reports (http://goo.gl/DXYiCQ ).
“They were not called, and they were not out there,” Roberts said of the four Crisis Intervention Team detectives, who are extensively trained and have daily experience working with mentally ill people.
Chief Gorden Eden said he couldn’t comment on the Boyd shooting because the FBI asked police not to comment. The FBI is investigating the shooting of Boyd.
The Bernalillo County Forensic Intervention Consortium is a mental-health advocacy group.
Police shot and killed Boyd in the Sandia foothills after authorities said he threatened ti kill officers and claimed he was a federal agent.
A publicly released video of that shooting sparked the 12-hour protest by hundreds of angry people Sunday. In the video, Boyd appeared to be surrendering before officers opened fire.
Eden told reporters after the shooting that a Crisis Intervention Team officer had tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with Boyd before the shooting.
But Roberts said police did not make a distinction between full-time detectives on the team and field officers who have completed 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Team training.
The team’s detectives would have been the most appropriate personnel to negotiate with Boyd, Roberts said.
“They have extensive training and experience with people living with mental illness, especially people on the street,” Roberts said.
About 27 percent of Albuquerque officers have Crisis Intervention Team certification.
On Wednesday, Mayor Richard Berry announced that Eden has unveiled plans that would require all cadets to get Crisis Intervention Team training and mandate such training for field service bureau officers.
Albuquerque police are under a federal investigation over excessive force and possible civil rights violations. The department also has drawn criticism for 37 police shootings since 2010.