D.A. Suspends Grand Jury Investigations of Police Shootings in Albuquerque; No Shooting Ever Ruled Unjustified

The district attorney in Albuquerque will be suspending the practice of sending police shootings to grand juries to determine that they were justified, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

There were 24 cop shootings since 2010; 17 were fatal. While cop shootings will no longer be handled by a grand jury, there are nine cop shootings still pending with the D.A.’s  office, including one by a cop who listed his job description on Facebook as “human waste disposal.”

The Journal on what the D.A. (who’s up for re-election!) might do next:

“I think what we have done in the past has a lot of integrity, but times are changing,” [Kari] Brandenburg [the District Attorney] said in an interview. “More transparency is always a good thing, and I am going to do what I said I would do and look for alternatives.”

Brandenburg said a preferable alternative would be to take each police shooting case before a judge in a preliminary court hearing. But that option would require charging each officer with a crime, she said.

“Ethically, we just can’t charge someone with a crime if we don’t believe a crime has been committed,” she said. “So if we were to try and go that route, we would have to have a rule change.”

Other options include appointing a special prosecutor for each case, which Brandenburg dismisses as too expensive, or forming a “review board” composed of citizens, attorneys, judges and law enforcement officials.

Brandenburg’s opponent in the upcoming Democratic primary race for the DA’s Office, public defender Jennifer Romero, has joined critics in denouncing the practice.

Brandenburg, who is seeking a fourth four-year term, has said the special grand jury process provides a second set of unbiased eyes to look at the work prosecutors in her office have done to determine whether police shootings are justified.

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  • John||

    Can I please pleas please some day become a special prosecutor for cops? I know I am not a perfect man and have done nothing to deserve such a wonderful profession. But I promise, I absolutely am a really good court room attorney. And it would always be a labor of love.

  • ||

    You have my vote brother.

  • tarran||

    If you are going to be in front of a jury, forget it.

    My brother is a great litigator (world famous in Boston) and he has dragged juries up to puddles of misfeasance, pushed their noses in it, and swirled them around to have them still come back with verdicts that indicated they saw nothing wrong.

    In one case involving wrongful death at a construction site, he got the maintenance foreman to admit they knew the crane part that failed was defective and there was an emergency recall from the manufacturer instructing immediate replacement before they shipped it out to a construction site where the pin failed within a day and the falling beams smashed a guy into strawberry jam. Despite all the damning admissions, the jury found the crane owners utterly unliable.

    Then there was the doctor who mutilated a woman he was doing surgery on like a modern day Mengele who walked away with no sanctions...

    Of course, most of the juries he deals with are composed of people out of Suffolk County...

  • tarran||

    BTW, I'd be happy to support your run for the position anyway...

  • ||

    OK, what's the full deal with this Mengele story?

  • Hugh Akston||

    "Ethically, we just can't charge someone with a crime if we don't believe a crime has been committed," she said. "So if we were to try and go that route, we would have to have a rule change."

    So wait, you can turn something from unethical to ethical just by changing the rules? The law is magical.

  • robc||

    Thats what ethics are, the rules for a situation/profession.

    Morals are something entirely different that I think you are confusing with ethics.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Well I sure hope their training program is benchmarked across America. That is a pretty good record there!

  • John||

    A grand jury is not a bad way to look at these cases. But the grand jury's decision is only as good as the information that is provided to it. So for the review to be proper, the DA has to be interested in getting an indictment.

    The problem is not the system. It is the DA.

  • ||

    Actually, I think for the review to be proper, the DA has to be interested in getting the facts.

    One would hope that if an indictment were appropriate the facts would produce one.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    we just can't charge someone with a crime if we don't believe a crime has been committed

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...

    *breathe*

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Fucking prosecutor is fucked. Story at 11.

  • sarcasmic||

    including one by a cop who listed his job description on Facebook as "human waste disposal."

    Judge, jury, and executioner.

  • Broseph of Invention||

    Very efficient. So you're saying he's also a governmental waste disposal? Medals are in order.

  • JW||

    “More transparency is always a good thing, and I am going to do what I said I would do and look for alternatives.”

    IOW, we're looking for a new way to sweep this shit under the rug, piss on your leg and tell you it's raining.

  • Tonio||

    IANAL, but my understanding is that a Grand Jury, once impaneled, is a powerful and terrible entity. Of course most (grand) jurors don't know this, so most GJ's are easily led by the prosecutor, but sounds like Ms. Brandenburg is aware of this and fears having a libertarian or FIJA member.

    I heard of a case a few years back where one GJ figured this out and caused no end of grief for the prosecutor because they actually did their job as prescribed by law.

    Any of you JD's want to comment on this? Anyone? John?

  • John||

    Yes Tonio. Grand Juries can be fearsome. They have subpoena power. They can witnesses questions. They can tell the DA to go collect documents and witness. They can in most states act as a fact finding commission.

    Sadly most grand juries don't do that. And they basically act as a blank slate for the DA. The DA puts on whatever facts he wants and the Grand Jury decides whatever the DA tells them to.

    Usually this works against he defendant. In small communities they can be appalling. Literally the DA gets up and goes

    There was a burglary over at the Smith's house. Everyone knows Billy Bob is a thief. So let's just indict him and get it over with.

    I am not kidding. But it could go the other way where the DA doesn't present any evidence and conducts the whole thing as an effort to vindicate the defendant. Or, as you say, the Grand Jury can get out of control and actually try to do its job.

  • Tonio||

    Thanks, John.

  • Rich||

    "I think what we have done in the past has a lot of integrity, but times are changing. More transparency is always a good thing, and I am going to do what I said I would do and look for alternatives."

    Ms. Brandenburg should skip the D.A. stuff and run for President.

  • Diomasach||

    17 of 24? That’s a pretty poor percentage.

  • LarryA||

    Depending on the study, 80 to 85 percent of the people shot with a handgun survive.

    A 9mm bullet won't actually throw you over a car and make you instantly dead, like in the movies.

  • perlhaqr||

    First World medicine is pretty good stuff.

  • perlhaqr||

    Easy solution to her dilemma: What would she do if I shot someone here in this fine city of Albuquerque, in a situation where I can reasonably be presumed to have been acting in self defence? That's what she should do with police shootings.

  • clarkcountycriminalcops||

    "There were 24 cop shootings since 2010; 17 were fatal."

    Here in Las Vegas we has 12 fatal shootings in 2011 alone. In the last 20 years cops have fired their weapons at our neighbors more than 380 times with more than 145 dead.

    Not a single officer has been prosecuted for an on-duty shooting and not a single officer has been fired in the last twenty years as a result of on OIS.

  • sweeterjan||

    Not a single officer has been http://www.lunettesporto.com/ prosecuted for an on-duty shooting and not a single officer has been fired in the last twenty years as a result of on OIS.

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