The two Albuquerque police officers accused of shooting and killing James Boyd may face second-degree murder charges.
Special prosecutor Randi McGinn’s office announced Monday it will pursue several charges against Keith Sandy and Dominque Perez including second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and aggravated battery.
Sandy and Perez are accused of killing Boyd after an hours-long standoff in the Albuquerque foothills in 2014.
A judge will now decide if there's enough evidence to move forward with the case. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for August.
McGinn took over the prosecution of the two officers after a district court judge disqualified the Bernalillo County district attorney. Originally, the district attorney sought first-degree murder charges for the two officers.
McGinn's accusations mean the officers did not plan the shooting death of Boyd, so the punishment is less severe.
“The penalty is dramatically reduced in the murder in the second degree charge,” said Barry Porter, a seasoned defense and civil rights attorney not involved with the case. “Murder in the second degree carries a 15 year penalty. And the judge actually has the discretion to suspend that sentence, so that the person doesn't have to do prison."
Sandy's attorney, Sam Bregman, said he disagrees with McGinn's decision to bring the charges.
"There is no justification for charging Keith Sandy with any crime," Bregman said. "Keith was a police officer protecting a fellow officer when he shot a mentally unstable man wielding two knives. There is simply no criminal intent."
The Albuquerque Police Officer's Association echoed Bregman's sentiments.
Porter said it's no slam dunk that Sandy and Perez will be convicted.
"If somebody is successful in asserting self-defense and convinces jurors in reasonable self-defense, then they get acquitted," he said.
Sandy is retired from APD. Perez is with the department on administrative duty, as he has not yet been charged with a crime.