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Editorial: Then-DA, APD chief let lieutenant walk in shooting

Foot-dragging by former Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden and former District Attorney Kari Brandenburg has let former APD Lt. Greg Brachle – who shot his colleague, Detective Jacob Grant, eight times during a botched drug bust in January 2015 – skate on any serious repercussions for his actions.

In fact, the only potential sanction Brachle could now face would be a refusal by the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board to re-certify him as a law enforcement officer in the unlikely event he would apply. Brachle retired from APD days before the city Police Oversight Board announced its recommendation he be fired for violating numerous policies, and he gave the state Attorney General’s Office a sworn affidavit his law enforcement certification had expired and he did not plan to apply for recertification.

Eden, who retired Nov. 30, never sent APD’s investigation to the Law Enforcement Academy Board for review, according to interim APD Police Chief Mike Geier, who said that should have occurred. Geier plans to forward the investigation to the board on the outside chance Brachle changes his mind about working in N.M. law enforcement again.

Brachle will not face any potential criminal charges either because, by the time former DA Brandenburg sent the case to the AG’s office in August 2016, the statute of limitations for negligent use of a firearm had already expired.

Grant has paid a far higher price for his colleague’s astonishing errors during the $60 drug bust outside a McDonald’s in NE Albuquerque. Most of Grant’s vital organs were damaged, and he has gone through more than a dozen surgeries. Taxpayers paid, too. To settle a lawsuit, the city agreed to pay Grant $6.5 million. He is also receiving lifetime medical coverage and disability retirement pay – as he should.

It may be a futile act, but Geier and the 10-member Law Enforcement Academy Board should follow through and review this horrific incident, albeit late, and let the pubic know what it finds. If nothing else, it might discourage future foot-dragging by public officials on police shootings.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.