The alleged recklessness of Lt. Greg Brachle reached its zenith around 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 9, 2015, when, during the drug bust, Brachle violated multiple APD regulations and pumped at least eight hollow-point, copper-jacketed, .45-caliber rounds into his subordinate, Det. Jacob Grant, according to newly filed court documents
BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI
The Albuquerque police lieutenant who shot a fellow officer during an undercover drug bust had a history of reckless and dangerous behavior, according to new documents filed in the lawsuit against the city, the lieutenant and APD over the shooting.
The lieutenant’s history includes intentionally ramming the cars of informants and suspected drug dealers, using beanbags to shoot out the window of a car even though the suspect had surrendered, and using a firearm to shoot at a spider, according to the documents.
The alleged recklessness of Lt. Greg Brachle reached its zenith around 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 9, 2015, when, during the drug bust, Brachle violated multiple APD regulations and pumped at least eight hollow-point, copper-jacketed, .45-caliber rounds into his subordinate, Det. Jacob Grant, according to the documents filed in Grant’s civil rights lawsuit.
Grant suffered massive internal injuries and has endured multiple surgeries since the shooting and has not worked since.
Brachle, who had worked with Grant on a near-daily basis for two years before the shooting, had been advised at least twice that Grant and another undercover detective, Holly Garcia, would be in the undercover vehicle that morning, according to Grant’s motion for summary judgment and affidavits from Grant and the sergeant in charge of the bust, Glen Stout.
The documents present this version of the incident:
Brachle and Grant had participated in at least 20 undercover drug busts together, and Grant always wore the same undercover clothes so as to be recognized by fellow officers. Brachle had seen the outfit dozens of times and joked with Grant that the clothes made him look like a homeless person.
Brachle had been briefed by phone 15 minutes prior to the bust that two suspects who would be in the undercover vehicle with Garcia and Grant were black males. Garcia is a Hispanic female and Grant is white. Brachle had been monitoring police radio traffic about the operation, the documents allege.
“Sgt. Stout told Brachle approximately 15 minutes prior to the shooting that Detectives Grant and Garcia were inside the undercover vehicle,” according to the summary judgment motion. “The seating location of the detectives and the two suspects was also communicated during several different radio transmissions that Brachle was monitoring.”
When the bust occurred, Brachle violated APD policy and training by “charging” the driver’s side of the undercover vehicle. Officers are trained to approach an undercover vehicle from the rear passenger side and to demand that suspects come out. Department procedures forbid a cop from charging a vehicle in such a circumstance.
But while other officers on the scene followed procedure, Brachle charged the driver’s side of the car, yanked open the back door and, without warning, began shooting at Grant with his personal .45-caliber handgun, according to the suit.
Grant, in the car’s back seat, had pulled his .380-caliber Glock on one of the suspects, Edmund Vester, also in the back seat, who had made motions to go for a gun he had that day. And while Grant had his gun trained on Vester, Brachle began firing at his own detective. The first two shots hit Grant’s left arm and shoulder and caused him to drop his gun. But rather than reassess the situation, as called for by APD training, Brachle kept firing until his ammo clip was empty.
After shooting Grant eight times in less than 10 seconds from two to three feet away, Brachle “took off his tactical vest, which contained his body cameras and audio recordings, and threw his tactical vest underneath his vehicle,” Stout’s affidavit says.
Grant’s affidavit alleges that after Brachle shot him, “Brachle then called Det. Garcia out of the vehicle using her actual name – not an undercover name – and made her walk back toward him as if she were a suspect.”
Grant’s and Stout’s affidavits allege that Brachle had engaged in reckless behavior on undercover busts previously. More than once he intentionally rammed the cars of undercover informants and suspects, they said.
“At one point, Lt. Brachle had intentionally wrecked into ‘suspects’’ vehicles so many times under questionable circumstances that on a wall we formed the words ‘Lt.’ out of his destroyed car parts,” according to Grant’s affidavit. “This was meant to be a suggestion or hint to him.”
Stout’s affidavit said that Brachle suffers from arachnophobia and that once, when he was a security guard in Colorado while in an attic crawlspace, tried to shoot a large spider. “Brachle said that after unsuccessfully trying to shoo the spider away, he drew his issued sidearm and fired a round at it,” Stout’s affidavit said.
Dennis Domrzalski is an associate editor at ABQ Free Press. Send your news tips to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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