The report will be presented to the Civilian Police Oversight Board in March
BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI AND CHARLES ARASIM
The Albuquerque police lieutenant who shot and seriously wounded a fellow officer in an undercover drug bust in 2015 violated numerous APD policies and should be fired, the head of the Albuquerque Civilian Police Oversight Agency says.
The lieutenant, Greg Brachle, didn’t attend a briefing on the undercover operation the morning it occurred and had been previously ordered by a supervisor to not actively participate in undercover operations, according to a report by CPOA Executive Director Ed Harness.
Brachle fired eight to nine .45-caliber, hollow-point rounds into Det. Jacob Grant the morning of Jan. 9, 2015, in a McDonald’s parking lot near Central and Tramway. Grant suffered horrific wounds, but survived and has undergone numerous surgeries to repair the damage.
Brachle violated several APD policies, including on when to use deadly force, Harness’ report says. The report will be presented to the Civilian Police Oversight Board in March. The CPOB is charged by city ordinance with investigating civilian complaints against cops as well as the use of deadly force by officers. It can recommend discipline, but the police chief isn’t bound to follow those recommendations.
ABQ Free Press obtained Harness’ report through an Inspection of Public Records Act request.
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.
Harness’ report says that Brachle was aware of that policy and should have known that Grant was in the rear, driver’s-side seat. Brachle had previously conducted “hundreds” of bust-buy operations and knew that the undercover cops were armed and that, in this case, the two suspects were black males. Grant is white.
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.
Here’s what Harness’ report says about the operation that morning:
“On January 9, 2015, at approximately 11:30 a.m. Lt. B. [rachle] approached the 2007 4 door Lexus with his weapon in a low ready position. He used his left hand to open the rear driver’s side door. From 1 ½ to 2 feet he observed the occupant [Grant] of the seat directly behind the driver holding a handgun. The handgun was pointed towards the opposite side of the vehicle. Members of the arrest team were approaching the vehicle from the rear on the opposite side. Lt. B yelled “gun, gun, gun” and one second later, according to the lapel video, he began firing his weapon into the driver’s side rear of the 2007 Lexus. Lt. B retreated from the vehicle while firing his weapon, a .45 cal. handgun. He emptied the first magazine and reloaded his weapon. 17 seconds after he began firing into the vehicle he realized the occupant of the vehicle holding the gun he observed was Det. JG. He’d fired 7 or 8 rounds into the vehicle.”
Harness’ report also says that Brachle didn’t attend the pre-operational briefing that morning. In his response to Grant’s lawsuit, Brachle says he did attend the briefing.
Here’s another excerpt from Harness’s report:
“Lt. B has conducted “hundreds” of these buy bust operations. What was the totality of the circumstances facing Lt. B? What were the facts he knew, or should have known as he approached that 2007 Lexus?
• His personnel – he worked with Det. JG for over 2 years & Det. HG for a few months
• Det. HG is the driver of the 2007 Lexus,
• His personnel will be armed,
• The two subjects of the operation are black males,
• One black male is wearing a white jacket
• He did not attend the briefing session for the operation,
• He had not been fully briefed during the operation,
• The standard protocol for his SID/Narcotics operation: When a UC detective is driving a vehicle, and another UC is in the vehicle, the other UC always sits behind the driver for safety of the officers involved.”
And here’s Harness’ recommendation as to what should happen to Brachle:
“The CPOA recommendation for discipline is TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT.”
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