Outgoing Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg in a scathing letter to US Attorney Damon Martinez and Independent Federal Monitor James Ginger blasted the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) accusing it of cover-ups and referring to APD as “a criminal enterprise and/or engaged in the act of racketeering”.
In her letter, Brandenburg noted APD’s ongoing problems with Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree and its refusal to fully cooperate with the DOJ, the allegations that APD has altered lapel camera evidence in police shooting cases, problems with the crime lab, and APD’s refusal to cooperate with hundreds investigations by civilian oversight groups.
(For full story see January 11, 2017 Albuquerque Journal “Outgoing DA blasts APD; Kari Brandenburg slams Police Department in letter”, page A-1)
Not surprisingly, APD Chief Gordon Eden used his rank and file police officers as human shields from the criticism saying “I take strong exception to the baseless allegations the former district attorney made against the dedicated men and woman of the department …”
Virtually all of Brandenburg’s criticism was directed at APD’s command staff and not police officers in the street.
APD’S TACTICS TO DISCREDIT AND INTERFERE WITH CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT
Brandenburg’s criticism was not at all baseless and no one should belief Gordon Eden’s political spin.
APD has a history of trying to discredit elected officials, the most recent case being none other than former District Attorney Kari Brandenburg.
Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg and her office were removed from the prosecution of former APD Police Officer Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy and a special prosecutor had to be appointed.
At the time of her removal from the prosecution of the case, APD revived a very weak investigation and charge of Brandenburg that went nowhere for alleged witness tampering in a criminal case involving her son and made sure it was forwarded to the Attorney General.
Brandenburg accused APD of retaliating against her for bringing charges against the officers.
Albuquerque’s Chief Administration Officer Rob Perry, no doubt with the blessings of Chief Gordon Eden, wrote Brandenburg alleging that she and members of her office had engaged in unethical conduct in reviewing the Perez/Sandy case for prosecution in an obvious attempt to have her office removed from prosecuting the case and to aid the defense.
The New Mexico Attorney General reviewed the APD criminal investigation of Brandenburg, found no criminal conduct by her and issued an opinion that APD’s investigation of the Brandenburg was politically motivated.
The attorney general also issued an opinion that there was “an appearance of impropriety” by Brandenburg when witnesses in her son’s case contacted her about making restitution for her son.
Brandenburg and her office were removed from the Perez/Sandy prosecution because of allegations of conflict of interest made by the defense against her and related publicity.
Ultimately, the first trial of Perez/Sandy ended with a hung jury voting 6 to 3 to find not guilty with the charges against Perez later dismissed by the special prosecutor.
DA’S CRITICAL ROLE OF POLICE OVERSIGHT
All elected District Attorneys must be 100% committed to civilian oversight of police, and recognize that police are not above the law and must be held to a higher standard in order to protect our constitutional rights.
The public should not tolerate even a hint of police intimidation against any prosecuting agency or any court when police perceive they are not getting their way or what they want.
Under no circumstances should the public tolerate law enforcement actions and investigations by police that are politically motivated.
In Bernalillo County, the District Attorney is part of the multi-jurisdiction task force that investigates officer-involved shootings.
An issue that hovers over the Albuquerque Police Department like a black cloud and that demands civilian oversight is the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree and implementation of agreed to reforms.
The consent decree mandates that APD participate in the “multi-jurisdiction” task force that investigates the shootings.
My hope is that the new Bernalillo County District Attorney is 100% committed to the DOJ reforms to civilian oversight of APD.
A District Attorney must be prepared to resist all outside political influences when it comes to investigating police officers for misconduct and violation of constitutional rights.
Chief Gordon Eden’s reaction to Brandenburg’s farewell kiss was to be expected.
You can also expect that APD’s command staff will now treat our new District Attorney the same way or try to discredit him also if he does not toe the line or if he demands full accountability from APD or civilian oversight of APD.