March 30, 2016

Big settlement for undercover detective shot by own lieutenant

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Albuquerque Police Department and Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department Photo Credit: Andy Lyman

The City of Albuquerque agreed Wednesday to pay $6.5 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit brought by APD Det. Jacob Grant, who was shot eight times by his own lieutenant during an undercover drug bust in January 2015.

Albuquerque Police Department and Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department Photo Credit: Andy Lyman

Albuquerque Police Department and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department Photo Credit: Andy Lyman

This story originally ran at ABQ Free Press.

In addition to the money, “the City will cover Jacob’s medial expenses for his lifetime as he continues his recovery,” City Attorney Jessica Hernandez said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “Although not a specific term of the settlement, Jacob will also receive a medical retirement through PERA [Public Employees Retirement Association]. This is an important part of ensuring that Jacob and his family are taken care of going forward.”

The settlement, the statement continued, “will resolve all claims under workers’ compensation and any other potential claims against the city.”

The settlement ends the nearly year-long case in which Grant claimed that his shooter, Lt. Greg Brachle, violated many APD policies regarding undercover drug busts on the day of the shooting.

Neither Grant nor his attorney were immediately available for comment.

Brachle shot Grant from less than five feet away with .45-caliber, hollow-point rounds during the undercover bust on Jan. 9, 2015 near Central and Tramway. Grant lost 80 percent of his blood, suffered temporary blindness and suffered damage to nearly every internal organ as a result of the shooting. He has undergone multiple surgeries to repair the damage and will most likely undergo many more.

Grant sued the city and Brachle in federal court last August. The lawsuit and subsequent court filings alleged that Brachle was a loose cannon who violated numerous police department policies and procedures that morning. The complaint also alleged that, while he didn’t attend an operational briefing on the bust that morning, Brachle was on his police radio and learned the details of the operation while he was en route to the scene that day.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that Brachle knew that in all APD undercover drug operations, an officer always drives an undercover car and an officer always sits behind the driver. Grant was in the rear seat in the undercover car that day behind Det. Holly Garcia, who was driving. And, Brachle learned from his police radio that the two suspects in the bust were black males. Grant is white.

Grant and Brachle had worked together for two years prior to the shooting, and Grant always wore the same clothes during undercover operations, and Brachle knew that, the lawsuit said.

In addition, the lawsuit said that APD protocol requires that all officers who are making an undercover bust approach an undercover vehicle from the rear passenger side. Brachle approached from the rear driver’s side. He began firing at Grant after opening the rear, driver’s side door.

On March 10, the Albuquerque Civilian Police Oversight Board recommended that Brachle be fired for shooting Grant. The decision is moot because Brachle submitted his retirement papers four days before the board’s decision.

Dennis Domrzalski is news editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.