Can the city make amends for the physical and emotional damage done to Det. Jacob Grant?
BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI
The City of Albuquerque agreed Wednesday to pay $6.5 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit brought by APD Det. Jacob Grant, who was shot eight times by his own lieutenant during an undercover drug bust in January 2015.
In addition to the money, “the City will cover Jacob’s medical expenses for his lifetime as he continues his recovery,” City Attorney Jessica Hernandez said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “Although not a specific term of the settlement, Jacob will also receive a medical retirement through PERA [Public Employees Retirement Association]. This is an important part of ensuring that Jacob and his family are taken care of going forward.”
The settlement, the statement continued, “will resolve all claims under workers’ compensation and any other potential claims against the city.”
Grant issued a statement saying the settlement will allow him and his family to move on with their lives.
“This lawsuit has been very stressful on my family, and we believe it is much better to devote our time and energy to raising our children and working on my recovery,” Grant said. “In bringing this matter to a close, my family, which includes the community and APD, can now move forward and concentrate on our future instead of our past. While we cannot change or undo what has occurred, we are hopeful that this incident will be positively used to improve law enforcement training, practices, policies, procedures, accountability, and community relations.”
Neither Grant nor his attorney were immediately available for comment.
Brachle shot Grant from less than five feet away with .45-caliber, hollow-point rounds during the undercover bust on Jan. 9, 2015 near Central and Tramway. Grant lost 80 percent of his blood, suffered temporary blindness and suffered damage to nearly every internal organ as a result of the shooting. He has undergone multiple surgeries to repair the damage and will most likely undergo many more.
Grant sued the city and Brachle in federal court last August. The lawsuit and subsequent court filings alleged that Brachle was a loose cannon who violated numerous police department policies and procedures that morning. The complaint also alleged that, while he didn’t attend an operational briefing on the bust that morning, Brachle was on his police radio and learned the details of the operation while he was en route to the scene that day.
Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that Brachle knew that in all APD undercover drug operations, an officer always drives an undercover car and an officer always sits behind the driver. Grant was in the rear seat in the undercover car that day behind Det. Holly Garcia, who was driving. And, Brachle learned from his police radio that the two suspects in the bust were black males. Grant is white.
Grant and Brachle had worked together for two years prior to the shooting, and Grant always wore the same clothes during undercover operations, and Brachle knew that, the lawsuit said.
In addition, the lawsuit said that APD protocol requires that all officers who are making an undercover bust approach an undercover vehicle from the rear passenger side. Brachle approached from the rear driver’s side. He began firing at Grant after opening the rear, driver’s side door.
On March 10, the Albuquerque Civilian Police Oversight Board recommended that Brachle be fired for shooting Grant. The decision is moot because Brachle submitted his retirement papers four days before the board’s decision.
Grant added in his statement that money his family received in the past year from crowdfunding and other sources will be donated to charities. “The funds that were generously donated to us will be used to help other injured police officers, needful fellow citizens, and to various charities. We will also be donating my remaining injury, sick, and vacation leave time to other City employees so that they too can take care of their family, medical, injury, or other needs,” the statement said.
“My family and I wish to express our profound gratitude to the community, my fellow APD police officers, Chief Eden, and to my medical staff for supporting us during this very painful and difficult time. Your prayers, thoughts, encouragement and financial support came to us during our deepest and darkest moments. Rather than become bitter, we feel blessed to be part of such a generous and wonderful community.”
Dennis Domrzalski is news editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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