Sunday, July 13, 2014

James Boyd's (And Our) Hell

I'm participating in a group project to transcribe the 40 police interviews conducted in the aftermath of the infamous and ignoble shooting of James Boyd in the foothills of the Sandia mountains.  Here is the first snippet of the interview conducted with APD's Scott Weimerskirch the day after he voluntarily joined the death squad that ended the mentally ill homeless man's life. Not a shred of remorse. Sometimes words just speak for themselves.

Okay, today's date is Monday March 17th, 2014, it's approximately 13:42 hours and this is Detective Jeff Stone with the Albuquerque Police Department here at the Family Advocacy Center at 625 Silver. We are here investigating an Officer Involved Shooting that occurred up in the foothills area near 812 Piedra Vista, NE. This is in reference to case number 140023683. Present in the room, state your name: Agent Hal Page, New Mexico State Police. Also, Sean Wallace, APD. And we are here interviewing Scott Wiemerskirch.

Stone: Scott, can you just tell me who your employer is?

Wiemerskirch: City of Albuquerque as a police officer.

Stone: And what unit are you assigned to?

Wiemerskirch: I'm assigned to the Tactical Canine Unit under the Special Operations Division.

Stone: How long have you been assigned there for?

Wiemerskirch: Almost seven years.

Stone: What's your call sign?

Wiemerskirch: 754

Stone: And your man number?

Wiemerskirch: 2774

[Spelled his name]

Stone: Scott, how long have you been on the department?

Wiemerskirch: I started the Police Academy July of 99, so a little over 14 years.

Stone: Awesome. Alright man just run through me, I'll give you the floor, from start to finish, everything that you can recall about what you did last night.

Wiemerskirch: Last night, I was actually secondary on call. For a canine request. And shortly, probably around 17:30 hours I got a call from radio control from dispatch advising canine request to the foothills in reference to a guy that was armed with knives and threatened open space, officers, camping up there.

Upon hearing the call right away I was kind of concerned about that because, it's something like, they were saying that they told him, Don't come any closer otherwise they were going to beanbag him, things of that nature.

So at that point I asked them if they'd advise I believe ______________ who's also actually a lieutenant, and I advised here that I'd be also be able to help. Getting dressed to go to the call Officer Ken Ronzone who was the primary came in on the call, called me, and told me what was going on, and I told me I'd be there also, because concern of that time of the day, it was actually nice, the weather was nice, and I'm actually familiar with that area somewhat from biking and stuff and trail running. But realizing on a Sunday that if we got a guy up in the foothills in that area in open space, there's a lot of people and I'd want to have resources to try to contain him and stop him from moving around.

Along route to the call I heard there was another call in the valley which I originally was going to go to, but then hearing this I actually, I called Sergeant Silver who I was actually covering for, advising him of what was going on and I told him I was going to call another dog to handle the call in the valley. Because this, one based on the things I told you earlier, I thought it was a little bit more urgent.

Stone: Okay.

Wiemerskirch: So I continued on and proceeded from I-25 to I-40 to Tramway to Copper to turn in off La Cueva. And when I went on scene, even prior to that I was asking as I came up Copper ,if I needed to come off the top of the trailhead to provide self containment, or if I should come up to where they were at.

Officer Ken Ronzone advised me that I should just come up to where they were at. And also to deploy with my dog, and we went to the house at the address that you had mentioned, there's a gate to the backyard you go out to the open space. When I arrived on scene things I was concerned about...when I deploy I put on a headset to try to keep radio traffic down to a minimum. And grabbed my police service dog and proceeded to the gate. When I came out to the gate, I looked up to the east and I could actually see a guy in an elevated position above us by a formation of rocks, yelling down at a field officer and, also it was Officer Keith Sandy and Rick Ingram. The sergeant on scene was Jason Carpenter and I saw Ken Ronzone. Officer Ken Ronzone was talking about pulling people back down off the hill to create more distance. I also ran into Pat Hernandez to try and verify charges.

Basically what they told me is they're telling this guy to leave, and when they went up there he was in a camp, they told him, Look let me see your hands, they challenged him to come forward and he showed his hands and he actually pulled knives out of his pockets. So based on that they were saying they had him on Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer, so we had felony charges, and the guy was just real irate was what they were telling me. And I could even hear him up from up top of the hill yelling and throwing his hands up. When they wanted us to back up... Jeff McFarland had called me prior to me leaving my house and he says, Hey I heard this call and do you want me to head up that way?, and I was like yeah I could use the manpower.

After we were down below, I told the guys, Let's not back up. My concerns at that point that we had him out in the open to talk and all, but he had a camp, he had not been searched by any officer, he'd already showed aggressive violence toward officers, he was even making comments that he'd kill people. Concern I had is, I don't know what else is in his camp and I wanted to keep him in a position where he didn't have such an advantageous position such as high ground or a position of cover to engage us in case in his camp he did have a rifle, a gun or something. Because of the close proximity to not only the houses, but to the south there's people, there's even people that were occasionally passing on the trail down below and I felt if we backed up, and this guy went mobile we were putting the public in jeopardy also.

So I took that Officer McFarland to go to the south I wanted _______ and another officer went with him cause I wanted to have eyes on into that camp area, or the rocks where he was recessed back into, and I moved up down below with Officer Keith Sandy and Rick Ingram, and at the same time I was trying to have Officer Ken Ronzone take a team and go to the north, and started giving the positions out to flank the individual and also provide containment.

Even from our position, you can still any time you got a guy in an elevated position there and the position of disadvantage which was a concern ... when I initially got up there, we started talking to him and trying to find a viable, based on the crime of the felony, see if there was a viable deployment of a dog. And from that lower position there's a lot of cactus bushes, rocks, that the dog would have to encounter to try to go up there and it wasn't viable at all. It wouldn't have been a practical tool cause if he saw the dog coming, and he was in a position to observe that, that he could actually try to circumvent those tactics.

And I told the guys when they got up there that from here the dog would not be practical.

When I got there really no one was having any dialogue with him, so I tried to talk to him and told him you know, Sir, what's going on? I might have even called him dude, just trying to get him to talk and he started to explain how everything from the economy's going to collapse in five months, said his money, his identity taken away, was really upset about things, and he made mention of everything from white collar crime. And he's tried to talk to APD before but he's CSO and they pretty much kicked him out. And just irate with the whole system and he didn't get ahold of OSI and CIV, so now I'm thinking he's military too, and we need to do that stuff because you know we can't do anything, and I told him you know a) APD's here now, why don't we walk off this mountain and we can go talk abut this.

And then he, you know, he corrected me, It's not a mountain, it's a hill, and you guys don't have the right, and he said basically, he kept on referring to State Police about talking to them cause in my dialogue with him he was just getting irate. You know, Put down the knives and come down the hill. You don't have the right to do that. At one point during this whole interaction, on the lower part, he actually pulled out a knife in his right hand, and he made all kinds of gestures of throwing his hands up just really irate even to the point of, you know, You guys come up here. His whole demeanor was you know basically he was going to kill all us, and ________me at one point he even called me a punk and was going to kill me, and he kept on mentioning the State Police so actually I was...

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