Albuquerque DA Told to Fear for her Safety, Courtesy of the Police

By emobile, Daily Kos

Here’s some more scary news from the Duke City, and it’s for real. Not from any of its famous TV series.

The county district attorney overseeing Albuquerque Police has gone on the record in the ABQ Free Press, saying that sympathetic police have informed her that others on the force may intend to do her physical harm.  She told the recently established alternative weekly:

“I don’t think they’re going to kill me, but I have been told to fear for my safety.”

The DA, Kari Brandenburg, has been under massive pressure from the APD thanks to her decision to charge two officers with murder in the death of homeless camper James Boyd last spring. The image of Boyd being shot down while retreating from police in the foothills east of the city went viral, leading to major demonstrations locally and heightened interest shortly thereafter when the U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report on years of excessive force by the APD.More recently, in what was perceived as an act of preemptive retaliation before Brandenburg had even filed the murder charges, police announced that they were investigating her for intimidation and bribery of witnesses in relation to a burglary case involving her son. In spite of that, Brandenburg maintained her cool, answering those accusations and not backing down on the murder charges.

In any event, since that time a judge has decided the appearance of conflict of interest was too much and ordered Brandenburg off the Boyd murder case. That might actually have been to the detriment of the accused cops, since she then turned around and appointed a special prosecutor who has an equally tough reputation (and happens to be the wife of a state Supreme Court justice).

A lesser known, but possibly as disturbing, case of APD abuse is that of the late 2010 death of civil rights attorney Mary Han. APD quickly ruled it a suicide, but there was much more to the story (again courtesy the Free Press):

Han was prominent among civil rights and criminal defense attorneys, but was especially prominent for her success in bringing lawsuits against the Albuquerque Police Department, against which she had won judgments. News of Han’s death began to spread via texts and phone calls among APD officers and officials. Within an hour of [her law partner’s] 911 call, every one of APD’s deputy chiefs was on the scene.

The story concluded with a view from a retired APD forensic investigator:

“One of two things happened that day. Either it was an absolute case of total incompetence by everyone involved, or it was cover-up. Those are the only two possibilities.”

“One of two things happened that day. Either it was an absolute case of total incompetence by everyone involved, or it was cover-up. Those are the only two possibilities.”

To date that investigation remains, in my opinion, possibly the creepiest cover-up ever perpetrated by APD. (The author of that piece, David Correia, had his own brush with APD in the past year. He was arrested on a ludicrous charge of felony assault on an officer at a City Council meeting.) Then there is another heartbreaking story, that of the 2011 fatal shooting of a mentally ill young man, Christopher Torres, reported in the New Yorker. Unlike Boyd, Torres’ parents were well-connected in city government.  But that did not help avoid the insanely tragic ending of his life and the blue-washing of its account.  As usual, the local media were all too happy to regurgitate the predictable lies put forth in the APD’s version of the death:

The Torres family learned how Christopher died from watching the news the next day. At a press conference, the department’s chief public-safety officer said that two officers had tried to arrest Christopher at home, but, when he resisted and grabbed a gun from one of them, the officers felt that their lives were in danger. The local television stations ran an unflattering picture of Christopher with his eyes bugged out. One station reported that the “police suspected Torres is responsible for several violent road rage incidents around the city.” The Police Department said publicly that Christopher had a lengthy criminal history, which was untrue.

And so it has gone for years and years. For deeper historical perspective, this Weekly Alibi article (also penned by Correia) describes “an internal APD report showing that its officers killed 15 people between 1987 and 1991, a number that exceeded fatal shootings over the same period in Tucson, Austin, El Paso, Colorado Springs and Tulsa combined. Then, as now, the shooting victims included unarmed suspects.”  The story reveals that, aside from heightened public awareness, little has changed over the years.Even after the nationwide outcry over Boyd, the D.O.J. intervention and Brandenburg’s prosecution efforts, the dark forces within the APD are essentially just flipping off anyone in the community that stands up to them.  Their tactic of arresting Correia on phony assault charges (which they dropped a few months later) appeared amateurish and stupid. But their ability to rule by fear of force remains unabated.

We can only hope and pray that, with an official with Brandenburg’s rank openly expressing her safety concerns, something has got to give.


Thought I would throw in this LA Times article which has some deeper info on the tug-of-war over Brandenburg’s son and another example of police “flipping off” (as I describe it)  Brandenburg’s office the day after she announced the charges. Also has some follow-up on the outcome of the Torres case.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos



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