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DA fears for her safety after charging APD officers

District Attorney Kari Brandenburg

BRANDENBURG: Working despite concerns

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — District Attorney Kari Brandenburg says she fears for her safety – concerned she might be a target after her decision to file murder charges against two Albuquerque police officers for the on-duty shooting of a homeless man in March 2014.

“I fear for my safety because other Albuquerque Police Department officers have told me that I should,” Brandenburg told the ABQ Free Press in a story published last week. “I don’t think they’re going to kill me, but I have been told to fear for my safety.”

Brandenburg, through a spokeswoman, declined to discuss the issue with the Journal and has not done interviews with local television stations on the subject.

Two federal law enforcement sources told the Journal that the U.S. Attorney’s Office was ready to make a referral to the FBI to investigate any threats to Brandenburg, but called off the investigation after she told federal prosecutors that she wasn’t interested in having the matter pursued.

U.S. Department of Justice officials, including the U.S. attorney, recently investigated APD for its use of force, and the department will operate under federal oversight as soon as a settlement agreement is finalized and approved by a federal judge.

Albuquerque police officials said they learned about Brandenburg’s comment from the article but said the DA never called them and the department hasn’t started to investigate the matter.

“We take those concerns very seriously,” APD said in a statement this week. “The Department is ready to investigate, either internally or criminally, any information she may have concerning her safety and look forward to meeting with her to discuss this matter.”

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office also said it would be willing to investigate if asked.

Brandenburg spokeswoman Kayla Anderson said the district attorney doesn’t dispute any of the comments attributed to her in what Anderson described as a “personal interview” with the free distribution publication.

Brandenburg’s office filed murder charges against Albuquerque police officer Dominique Perez and retired Detective Keith Sandy in February in connection to the shooting of James Boyd.

Her office has since been disqualified from prosecuting the case by a district judge who cited an apparent conflict of interest, and Brandenburg has appointed Albuquerque attorney Randi McGinn as a special prosecutor.

On at least two occasions, Albuquerque police officers have provided Brandenburg with around-the-clock security. APD officers worked as her bodyguards in 2007 after police received threats regarding several members of the district attorney’s office, and in 2010, when Brandenburg prosecuted Michael Paul Astorga, who was convicted of murdering a sheriff’s deputy, according to Journal archives.

On Wednesday, Brandenburg didn’t attend a press conference with Albuquerque police and federal law enforcement officials that announced federal charges stemming from cases originally handled by her office. Federal agents from El Paso, Phoenix and Albuquerque attended the news conference.

Anderson said the district attorney was invited to the press conference Wednesday morning but had prior commitments. She said Brandenburg is working daily despite the safety concerns.

Journal investigative reporter Mike Gallagher contributed to this report.

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

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