Monday, January 12, 2015

Updated Blue on Blue -- and Perez and Sandy Are Charged With Murder

Well. This is really a mess. Though it is getting interesting... Kari Brandenburg, the Bernalillo County DA is charging the two officers who shot and killed James Boyd in March with an open count of murder.

According to the various highly incomplete accounts of the blue on blue shooting at the McDonald's on Central near Tramway in Albuquerque the other day, two suspects in a drug sting were riding in a Lexus driven by an undercover detective named Holly Garcia; sitting behind her was an undercover detective named Jacob Grant. The suspects were in the front and rear passenger seats. Garcia drove the car to the EconoLodge next to the McDonald's where one of the suspects obtained $60 worth of methamphetamine and sold it to one of the undercover detectives. Garcia then drove to the McDonald's parking lot and signaled the waiting undercover detectives to make the bust.

One of the waiting detectives was Lt. Greg Brachle. For reasons unknown, he apparently opened fire, severely wounding Jacob Grant and grazing Holly Garcia (as best as can be pieced together from the various reports at this point. The story is liable to change as more information is made public.) The suspects were apprehended and arrested by other detectives without incident, and while it is unknown whether the suspects were armed, they were not charged with any weapons offenses.

Well, this is all just too bizarre. Some are speculating that Grant was a target for assassination by Brachle, but why that should be so is anyone's guess, and it could involve any number of factors. On the other hand, there are reports that Brachle was the lead detective but did not attend the final operational meetings for the sting and may not have been aware that Grant was going to be in the car. He may have simply seen a gun and opened fire instinctively as officers so often do. The shooting may have therefore been yet another Tragic Accident.

Too many unknowns at this point.

But it is interesting that reports last month that Kari Brandenburg would file open murder charges against Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy for killing James Boyd last March are true.

Brandenburg has filed charges -- "informations" -- with the court today, and there will be a preliminary hearing open to the public to determine whether there probable cause to go forward with a trial.

The judge will make the determination. The judge could dismiss the charges at the preliminary hearing, or could send the matter to trial.

An open count of murder means there could be a verdict of anything between voluntary manslaughter and first degree murder. Of course there could also be an acquittal.

Few are convinced that 1) Brandenburg will vigorously pursue this case, 2) there will be a guilty verdict on any charge, 3) or even that the case will go to trial.

On the other hand, if it does go to trial, it is almost certain that Brandenburg or her deputy DA will put James Boyd on trial, as we've seen DAs do in similar cases by trying the victim rather than the killer (cf: Mike Brown) in front of grand juries.

Brandenburg, for her part, has never once ruled a killing by APD to be unjustified. So there is understandable skepticism that this gambit -- yet another highly unusual one in such cases -- will result in justice for James Boyd.

We'll see.

In a further interesting development, the Albuquerque Journal is reporting that homicides in 2014 were way down. Hm. How could that be given the fact that APD stopped killing people in July? Boggles the mind, it does.

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