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July 28, 2014

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Albuquerque police sued over fatal camper shooting

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The family of a homeless camper fatally shot by Albuquerque police in a shooting that generated national outcry and protests throughout the city, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Friday and is seeking to force the department to make dramatic reforms.

The lawsuit filed in state district court claims that the more than 40 officers dispatched to handle James Boyd had "no meaningful control" of the standoff, and their lack of training led to his death.

"Boyd, suffering from mental illness, was helpless to understand why officers were pointing guns at him, let alone able to comply with their orders," the lawsuit said.

"APD's standards for hiring, training, policies, oversight, or lack thereof, contributed to the unjustified killing of (Boyd)," the complaint continued, "as did Albuquerque's failure to take any action in the face of what was plainly an out of control police department."

Janet Blair, a spokeswoman for the Albuquerque Police Department, referred all questions on the lawsuit to the city attorney.

The city attorney did not immediately return an email from The Associated Press.

The lawsuit names Andrew Jones, Boyd's brother and the personal representative of his estate, as the plaintiff.

A helmet camera video of the March shooting showed Boyd, 38, who authorities say suffered from schizophrenia, gathering his belongings before officers opened fire.

The shooting sparked widespread calls for Albuquerque police reform and resulted in massive protests, one which forced tactical police to dispatch tear gas and another one that caused city councilors to cancel a meeting.

Shortly, after the Boyd shooting the U.S. Justice Department released a scathing review of the agency's use of force, and the city has entered negotiations over ordered reforms.

Since 2010, Albuquerque police have shot 40 people, killing 26.

The Boyd lawsuit seeks damages and an injunction requiring the city to take a series of actions, including allowing doctors to respond to situations involving the mentally ill and forcing the city to pay around $1.75 million a year for rental subsidies for the homeless.

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