Why has the city made no requests for secrecy until now?
City Wants Secrecy Order in Jacob Grant Lawsuit
BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI
Last December 17, the attorney for Albuquerque Police Officer Jacob Grant had an appointment to visit the offices of the attorney representing the city and police Lt. Greg Brachle in Grant’s civil rights lawsuit against Brachle and the city.
Grant’s attorney, Alex Gabaldon, was to inspect police records in the case in which Brachle shot Grant eight times during an undercover drug bust in January 2015. The agreement between Gabaldon and the city’s attorney was for Gabaldon to look at the documents to see which ones might need to be kept secret because they contained sensitive information about undercover bust operations. The agreement was made on Dec. 9, 2015.
But three hours before Gabaldon was to inspect the documents, the city’s attorney, Patrick Allen, reneged on the deal and canceled the appointment. And now, the city is asking a federal court judge to keep almost all documents in the case secret.
“As I have been preparing for our meeting today, I have come to the conclusion that we need to cancel,” Allen emailed Gabaldon at 11:31 a.m. on December 17, 2015. “After giving additional thought to the confidentiality issues, I firmly believe that we need a confidentiality order in place before I allow you, Jonlyn, or anyone else to review or obtain any documents related to the incident.”
And now, Grant’s attorney is opposing the city’s effort to keep documents in the case secret.
“Behind the city’s false veneer of ‘officer safety’ is an obstructive attempt to shield and delay record production,” Gabaldon wrote in court papers filed March 11. “The city’s contention that undercover protocols should be shielded is either moot or inapplicable since the city denied that these protocols exist, and these protocols have already been publicly disclosed in public filings by all parties, news media and in public hearings.”
Gabaldon said that much of the information that the city now wants to keep secret was contained in Grant’s lawsuit that was filed last August. Gabaldon sent the city a courtesy copy of the suit on Aug. 4, 2015, 22 days before it was filed. “Despite this courtesy of prior notice, at no time did the city ever raise any concerns, or make any requests that Det. Grant file the Compliant under seal, or take any other measures to safeguard any tactical protocols discussed in the complaint,” Gabaldon said in his court filing.
Brachle shot Grant eight times at point-blank range with .45-caliber, hollow-point rounds. Grant suffered grievous wounds and has undergone multiple surgeries to repair the damage. Last week, the Albuquerque Civilian Police Oversight Board recommended that Brachle be fired for shooting Grant. But that ruling is moot because Brachle submitted his retirement papers four days before the CPOB’s decision.
Dennis Domrzalski is news editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Photo: Jacob Grant with his family; Attribution: KOAT)
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