Thursday News Roundup: Autopsy Reveals A Shot To The Back From Police Killed Homeless Man

May 29, 2014

Autopsy Reveals A Shot To The Back From Police Killed Homeless Man The Associated Press

An autopsy report says a homeless man shot and killed by Albuquerque police — a shooting that sparked a violent protest — had multiple surgeries and his arm amputated before he died.

The Office of the Medical Investigator on Thursday released the autopsy report of 38-year-old James Boyd on Thursday and said he died from three gunshot wounds.

The report says one gunshot wound to his upper right arm required surgical amputation of the arm.

Boyd, who suffered from schizophrenia, was shot by officers March 16 following a long standoff in the Sandia. A helmet camera video of the shooting showed Boyd gathering his belongings before officers opened fire.

That shooting sparked widespread calls for Albuquerque police reform, and U.S. Justice Department then released a scathing review of the agency's use of force.


Udall Proposes Border Health, Security Bills – The Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall says he is pushing legislation to improve the health and economies of border communities.

During a trip to southern New Mexico on Wednesday, the Democrat said he is sponsoring a bill, the Border Health Security Act, to strengthen binational collaboration and establish grant programs to improve public health infrastructure and infectious disease monitoring. He says he is also working on a bill called the Colonias Improvement Act to reduce red tape for water and road improvement projects for border communities known as "colonias."

Udall's office says one in four families in the colonias lives in poverty, many without access to decent housing - even working plumbing. The lack of access to health services and educational opportunities also contributes to higher rates of serious communicable diseases.

Albuquerque Police Critics Launch New Website – The Associated Press

Critics of the Albuquerque Police Department have launched a new website aimed at organizing information about upcoming protests and monitoring officer behavior.

A coalition of activists recently unveiled apdprotest.org and are planning a June 21 rally outside of downtown.

David Correia, an organizer and an American Studies professor at the University of New Mexico, says advocates wanted to have a centralized website to disseminate information and have a platform to discuss problems with Albuquerque police.

The Albuquerque Police Department has been under increased scrutiny since the U.S. Justice Department released a scathing review of its use of force. The agency also has been involved in 40 police shootings since 2010.

The city is negotiating with federal officials over police reform proposals.

Cause, Impact Of Fire At Biofuels Facility Studied – The Associated Press

Investigators are trying to determine what caused a fire and explosions at a southern New Mexico biofuel facility where some railroad ties continue to smolder.

Officials say there were no injuries from the large fire and explosions Tuesday at the Rio Valley Biofuels facility near the town of Anthony.

Hundreds of homes were evacuated but residents were allowed to return to their homes by early afternoon.

The Sheriff's Office says crews are letting the railroad ties burn and that the smoke being reported by some residents isn't toxic.

Dona Ana County sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Jameson says tanks that exploded contained toxic chemicals, including glycerin, hydrochloric acid, methanol, sodium methylate and bio-diesel.

NM County Seeks Congress' Help In Water Dispute – Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press

Officials in one southern New Mexico county are reaching out to Congress for help as a battle between ranchers and the federal government continues over access to dwindling water supplies on national forest land.

Otero County commissioners have sent letters to New Mexico's congressional delegation and the chairmen of the House Natural Resources and Judiciary committees. They're asking that hearings be held to investigate the actions of the U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies.

The commissioners say the federal government is trampling on people's water and property rights in New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Nevada and other western states.

Southwest Regional Forester Cal Joyner says the decision to close off the Agua Chiquita spring was made a decade ago and his office doesn't have authority to open the gate without another round of environmental reviews.

Federal Policy Adviser To Lead Valles CalderaThe Associated Press

A policy adviser with the U.S. Interior Department has been selected as the next executive director of the trust that manages the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

The trust announced the appointment of Jorge Silva-Banuelos on Wednesday. He was selected from a field of two dozen applicants who were vying for the position.

Silva-Banuelos has spent the last decade working in Washington, D.C. For eight years, he worked for then-U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman and was later a staff member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

He has worked as an adviser for the assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks at the Interior Department for the last two years.

Silva-Banuelos will start his new job in July.

The preserve encompasses 89,000 acres in northern New Mexico's Jemez Mountains.

New Rail Hub Opens Along Border In New MexicoThe Associated Press

A sprawling, $400 million railroad hub has opened in southern New Mexico with the promise of transforming the border area into an international industrial trade zone.

The hub is one of the largest of its kind in the U.S. and is expected to spur development on both sides of the border. Known as the Santa Teresa Intermodal Ramp, the hub can handle up to 225,000 shipping containers a year.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and her Mexican counterpart Cesar Duarte, the governor of Chihuahua, Mexico, were among the officials on hand for the ceremony Wednesday that opened the Union Pacific project almost a year early.

Officials used rubber mallets to hammer golden railroad spikes into holes drilled on a wooden plank.

Feds Seize Marijuana In Floor Tiles In New MexicoThe Associated Press

Federal authorities say 156 pounds of marijuana found hidden in floor tiles has been seized at the southwestern New Mexico border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Antelope Wells international crossing made the seizure Tuesday.

They say the marijuana was discovered in sealed boxes of the tiles inside a shuttle van.

CBP officers discovered the boxes contained full sheets of tile on the top and bottom, but cut pieces in between.

They say the cut pieces created a void which was filled with bundles of marijuana.

The estimated street value of the drugs was nearly $125,000.

Authorities say the shuttle driver and a passenger — both Arizona men — are in custody and been turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations special agents.