Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Abuquerque Police Endanger Their Own Through Incompetence (or is it malfeasance?)

The tarnished Albuquerque police department needs total reorganization and new management. We finally hear from Jacob Grant, the undercover police officer who was critically injured by another police officer last year during an undercover drug buy.  I raised the issue of possible malfeasance in my blog post of January 29, 2015.

Investigators search a car involved in a shooting after an APD lieutenant shot a detective, according to authorities. Police say the shooting happened during an undercover narcotics operation. (Nicole Perez/Albuquerque Journal)
Investigators search a car involved in a shooting after an APD lieutenant shot a detective, according to authorities. Police say the shooting happened during an undercover narcotics operation. (Nicole Perez/Albuquerque Journal)
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.
Mayor Richard Berry, Chief Gorden Eden and APD brass gather near the McDonald’s where officer Jacob Grant was seriously wounded by a fellow officer in January while on an undercover assignment. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)
Mayor Richard Berry, Chief Gorden Eden and APD brass gather near the McDonald’s where officer Jacob Grant was seriously wounded by a fellow officer in January while on an undercover assignment. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)
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.
Settlement sought
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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I believe there is much more to this story.  Here is the demand letter from Det. Grant's attorney delivered to Mayor Berry at the City of Abuquerque. I hope Det. Grant files a lawsuit and it goes to trial because the "discovery" process may bring to light the facts behind the shooting. Indeed, we may even see that a bad cop was exercising punishment on a good cop who didn't agree with APD dirtiness. Here is video of Det.Jacob Grant in 2012 when he was doing his best to serve the public as a good cop.  I thank Det. Grant for his service and I do hope he gets justice.  Indeed, the citizens of Albuquerque deserve justice and freedom from corrupt police officers and a mis-managed police department.



Monday, May 18, 2015

A Week in Taos (May 9-16, 2015)


TAOS

The blue sky seduced me.
Not like any other sky.
Not the gray-blue of the sky in the city.
Not even “sky blue” like that of a desert remembered.
But soul-deep blue.
Rising from a field of yellow ochre flowers,
deep green pinon,
and colorado red rock walls.
These intense primary colors
against this blue.
Such sweet seduction
like the fumes of some narcotic smoke
adrift above the gray-green sage
covering this plain that flows from my feet.
I feel I am standing
on the edge of heaven.

(Vicki Powers, 1999)

Taos Mountain from El Prado (El Meze Restaurant) - Photo by Amanda Powers


Photo by Amanda Powers
































"Downtown" Taos - Paseo del Pueblo Norte

Taos Pueblo - A UNESCO World Hertiage Site

The "Black Cross" of the Penitentes was  painted by Georgia O'Keffee

La Morada of the Penitentes
I painted here under Michelle Christman's mentoring

MIchelle Christman's painting in work

Shops in the Taos Plaza  

Photo by Alma Quillian

Photo by Alma Quillian

The Rio Grande Gorge by the John Dunn Bridge - Photo by Alma Quillian

Photo by Alma Quillian

Photo by Alma Quillian

Photo by Alma Quillian

My friend, artist Alma Quillian, having Chile en Nogada at Bella's Mexican Restaurant
I stayed at the Worldmark Taos (formerly Fechin Inn) - Photo by Amanda Powers
Walking along Paseo del Pueblo visiting shops and galleries - Photo by Cathy Hogan

My friend, Cathy Hogan, from Sandia Park, came up to Taos to stay with me for a couple of days.  We explored the random art and shrines we found throughout Taos,

My husband and children were there for Mother's Day Weekend.

Ron at Mother's Day Brunch at El Monte Sagrado

My daughters, Amanda and Mary, Mother's Day Brunch
Son-in-law Matt at my hotel Worldmark Taos

Mother's Day in Kit Carson Park





A beautiful family day at Kit Carson Park on Mother's Day


video
Dancing in the park on Mother's Day



There were many beautiful Spring flowers blooming throughout the town of Taos . 










We visited the Greater World Earthship Communty just west of the Gorge Bridge.  You can take a tour of an off-the-grid, sustainanle Earthship.  Want to live n one?  Here are several for sale.

Greater World Earthship Community





Yes, that's a pineapple growing in the earthship 






We missed the celebration of the late Dennis Hopper's 79th birthday on Dennis Hopper Day Sunday, May 17th.  It began to rain pretty heavily by Saturday affecting the Taos Lilac Festival.  The lilacs were in full bloom.