Albuquerque police officer Jacob Grant, critically wounded by his own supervisor at point-blank range as he sat in a vehicle with two suspected drug dealers, says his boss opened fire and emptied his eight-round clip into the car even though the suspects were compliant and posed no threat.
Grant also alleges in a letter sent to the city by his attorney that he was “well known” to Lt. Greg Brachle and was in his pre-assigned seat in the car with the suspects and another detective when Brachle opened fire as the $60 methamphetamine bust unraveled.
The letter, seeking a settlement but threatening a lawsuit if one is not reached, alleges Brachle didn’t attend the pre-operation briefing and points out that Grant is white and the two suspects were African-American. Neither suspect was wounded.
The incident occurred Jan. 9 in the parking lot of an East Central McDonald’s restaurant.
Shortly before the “blue on blue” shooting, Grant and fellow Detective Holly Garcia made a drug purchase in the McDonald’s parking lot near Tramway and Central.
At the end of the buy, a bust signal was given and other officers moved in to make the arrests. Police have said Grant revealed himself as a police officer during the undercover sting and that one of the men he was buying from had produced a pellet gun resembling a real firearm.
At that point, APD has said that Brachle, a veteran supervisor and former firearms instructor, began firing his weapon into the car. But Grant’s letter said the two suspects were compliant and cooperative after he revealed himself as a police officer and didn’t present a threat.
Grant, who suffered abdominal injuries, nerve damage to his left arm and a fractured right hand, makes other serious claims in the letter that raise questions about the operation of the narcotics squad and what happened that day.
In addition to his alleged failure to attend the pre-operation briefing, Grant’s letter says that after shooting Grant at least twice, Brachle repositioned himself and continued to fire at Grant until his clip was empty. He said Brachle is a former firearms instructor at the APD academy and basic firearm safety rules were ignored or disregarded.
One of Brachle’s shots passed through Grant and wounded Garcia.
The letter, written by attorney Alex M. Gabaldon, asks for a negotiated resolution rather than requiring Grant and his family to file a civil lawsuit. The letter is known as a “tort claims letter” and is usually required to be filed with the city before a civil lawsuit is filed.
APD spokeswoman Celina Espinoza said the department is “taking Detective Grant’s claims very seriously.”
“We know this is a very difficult situation for Detective Jacob Grant and his family,” she said. “It is a case that has forever and deeply affected those involved, their families, our community and the department.”
She said the claims are under review by the city legal department and the office of Chief Gorden Eden.
Grant is on paid administrative leave while Garcia has returned to regular duties. Brachle is on administrative duty assignment with no law enforcement duties.
According to Gabaldon’s letter, Grant will not be able to return to work and he won’t be able to resume normal activities like carrying his children, fishing, working on his vehicles or enjoying the outdoors.
“In light of the City’s stated desire to support both its police officers and its citizens,” Gabaldon suggested that an amicable resolution could be reached before any lawsuit was filed.
Lack of training
Gabaldon’s letter also raises broader issues about the narcotics unit.
It claims that on the day of the shooting, Grant’s position was compromised because the unit was “woefully understaffed and had not been provided with (and in-fact had been denied) requested training undercover narcotic work. Indeed Mr. Grant cannot recall receiving any formal undercover narcotic training.”
Gabaldon wrote that he believes that APD does not have written operating standards or procedures in place regarding narcotics field operations.
“Furthermore, APD has not provided its narcotics division with critical equipment,” such as vehicles equipped with pre-installed audio and visual surveillance/recording equipment, Gabaldon stated in his letter.
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