Shocking Revelation: AG Balderas said the statute of limitations had lapsed on the case when he got it in 2016 from DA Kari Brandenburg
Brandenburg said Balderas never notified her of the statute lapsing
Balderas rips former APD Chief Gorden for never filing to revoke the law enforcement license of Greg Brachle
A former Albuquerque police lieutenant who shot and nearly killed one of his own officers in a 2015 undercover drug bust won't be prosecuted in the case because the former Bernalillo County District Attorney, Kari Brandenburg, sent it to the New Mexico Attorney General's office after the statute of limitations had run on it, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said said Tuesday.
And former APD Chief Gorden failed to abide by state rules and regulations that required him to report the lieutenant's misconduct to the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board. Eden should have, but didn't, file paperwork to revoke the lieutenant's law enforcement license, Balders said.
On Tuesday, Balderas, informed Albuquerque's new police chief, Michael Geier, of his decision not to prosecute the now-retired lieutenant, Greg Brachle, on negligent use of firearms charges for shooting his own officer, Jacob Grant, eight times.
Read Balderas' letter to Geier here.
(Photo: Jacob Grant.)
But Balderas did recommend that Geier file paperwork to revoke Brachle's law enforcement license. Brachle shot officer Jacob Grant eight times during the January 2015 drug bust, and he was found to have violated several APD policies in the way he participated in the drug bust.
In a letter to Geier, Balderas said that when Brandenburg referred the case to his office on August 18, 2016, it was impossible to prosecute the case the statute of limitations had lapsed. Balderas's letter to Geier said that his office informed Brandenburg on Sept. 13, 2106 that the case couldn't be prosecuted.
Brandenburg told ABQReport Tuesday night that she doesn't remember getting such a letter from Balderas. And, she said she sent Balderas' office a letter in the summer of 2016 saying her office was looking at charging Brachle with either second-degree murder and/or manslaughter in addition to negligent use of a firearm. The first two charges were felonies and the statute of limitations would not have lapsed on them at the time, Brandenburg said.
“Upon receipt of the case file on August 18, 2016, we noted in a correspondence to District Attorney Kari Brandenburg on September 13, 2016, that the statute of limitations for Negligent Use of a Firearm had lapsed, preventing our office from charging Greg Brachle with that crime,” Balderas' letter to Geier said.
“While the circumstances surrounding the incident were certainly tragic, and it does appear that the officer's conduct was negligent, a review of the evidence provided by former District Attorney Brandenburg would not permit our office to charge Lieutenant Brachle with criminal conduct surviving the statute of limitations. Accordingly, no charges will be filed against Mr. Brachle.”
The city paid a $6.5 million settlement to Grant in 2016. Brachle retired from APD in early 2016 and just before the Civilian Police Oversight Agency recommended that he be fired. Brachle still has his law enforcement license, because former APD Chief Gorden Eden never filed to revoke it with the New Mexico Law Enforcement Board.
Grant survived the shooting but has undergone nearly a dozen surgeries to repair the damage to his body that Brachle's bullets caused. He retired from APD.
Balderas's letter to Geier said that the new chief might want to file against Brachle's license, and the AG ripped Eden for failing to file against Brachle's law enforcement license.
“Despite the fact that Mr. Brachle will not face criminal prosecution, I must highlight my serious concern that your agency failed to report his negligent conduct to the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board,” Balderas' letter said.
“Pursuant to [state statute] 'any law enforcement agency employing a police officer [or] telecommunicator who has committed, or reasonably appears to have committed, any act in violation of thee rules shall report such conduct to the director within 90 days after the agency initiates an internal affairs review or is otherwise made aware of the alleged misconduct.' Given the nature of the conduct in question, APD should have immediately submitted the matter to the [Law Enforcement Academy Board] for review and final discipline.
“Mr. Brachle provided the Office of the Attorney General with a sworn affidavit indicating that he does not intend to apply for recertification; however, there is nothing that will bar him from doing so should he change his mind at some point in the future and attempt to once again work as a law enforcement officer. Regardless of the fact that the statute of limitations has lapsed on the incident in question, it is paramount that the underlying conduct be reviewed by the NMLEA board.”
Editor's note. Here's the story I wrote in February of 2016 about the Civilian Police Oversight Agency's recommendation that Brachle be fired:
The Police Oversight Board on Thursday recommended that Albuquerque Police Lt. Greg Brachle be fired for shooting a fellow officer eight times during an undercover drug bust last year.
The board voted 5-1 to accept the recommendations of Ed Harness, the executive director of the Civilian Police Oversight Agency, that Brachle be fired. Brachle shot Det. Jacob Grant with eight .45-caliber, hollow-point rounds during the bust on Jan. 9, 2015 near Tramway and Central. Grant was seriously wounded and has undergone several surgeries to repair the damage to his internal organs.
CPOB Chair Beth Mohr said the case was a tragedy and that she was bothered that Brachle started shooting at Grant without ordering him to drop a gun he had in his hand. Grant had pulled his gun after one of the suspects in the undercover car reached for a gun he had.
Mohr also said she had reviewed Brachle's lapel camera video and that in that video she could hear other detectives on Brachle's police radio saying the two suspects were black makes. Grant is white. “It bothers me that he opened fire without giving directions,” Mohr said.
Police Chief Gorden Eden doesn't have to follow the board's recommendation. If he doesn't, he has 30 days to write the board to say why.
Grant has sued APD and the city for civil rights violations in federal court. That lawsuit alleges that Brachle, who had supervised Grant for more than two years, acted recklessly in shooting his fellow officer. Grant always wore the same clothes during undercover operations, and APD policy says that undercover cops in drug busts always sit in the rear seat behind a vehicle's driver, which was where Grant was that day, the lawsuit says.