In a press conference on Thursday, Second Judicial District Attorney Kari Brandenburg addressed the findings from a report by the New Mexico Attorney General’s office regarding actions she took after her son was accused of theft.
Brandenburg told reporters she plans to move along with business as usual after the Attorney General found no criminal act by Brandenburg.
“I’m please this is behind us and I think it’s really important that we move forward,” Brandenburg told reporters.
Still, Brandenburg referred the APD investigation into her alleged wrongdoings to the Department of Justice.
The report from Balderas said that Brandenburg should have referred criminal cases involving her son, Justin Koch, to a different jurisdiction. Brandenburg said she never referred the cases to another district attorney because she never saw a police report for the cases.
“I have referred this matter of the investigation into me, based on the AG’s letter to the feds,” she said.
According to the letter from Balderas, the Attorney General’s office received a request by APD to investigate possible witness intimidation by Brandenburg after her son allegedly burglarized two homes. At issue was that Brandenburg allegedly contacted the victims and possibly offered to reimburse them if they did not pursue charges against Koch.
The Attorney General’s letter noted there was no evidence of legal wrongdoing by Brandenburg, but that her actions “clearly created created an appearance of impropriety.”
Because of the timing of APD’s referral of the cases against Brandenburg to his office, Balderas wrote that there was the appearance of political motivation from APD. The request from APD to the Attorney General came just as Brandenburg announced murder charges for two officers in the killing of James Boyd, a homeless camper in the foothills of Albuquerque.
Relations between Brandenburg and APD have been strained since she indicated she would charge the two officers with murder. In one case, a deputy district attorney was not allowed on the scene of police-involved shootings and city officials have said that there should be special prosecutors on such cases.
Before the murder charges, Brandenburg’s office generally had a good relationship with police.
Still, Brandenburg said she intends to maintain open communication with the City of Albuquerque and its police force.
“I have extended an olive branch to the Albuquerque Police Department and to the mayor in hopes that we can work together,” Brandenburg told reporters. “We are dealing in very challenging times and we need to rise to the challenge.”
She went on to explain that her “olive branch” was an invitation to APD Chief Gorden Eden to meet with her. According to Brandenburg, Eden said he would get back to her.
Brandenburg maintained that she did not reach out to any witnesses or victims regarding her son’s actions, but instead was contacted by them. She said she was acting as a concerned mother.
“It was about Justin,” Brandenburg said. “It was about trying to save his life.”
When asked how she might react to a similar situation in the future, Brandenburg said, “I think if anyone were to call me, I would hang up on them and call the New Mexico State Police.”
Update: Some information on relations between Brandenburg and APD were added for clarity.