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.
District Attorney Kari Brandenburg announced that an Albuquerque attorney will be the special prosecutor in the case related to the shooting of a homeless man by Albuquerque police. Randi McGinn will be the special prosecutor in the James Boyd shooting case, Brandenburg announced on Thursday morning. A district court judge ruled last week that Brandenburg could not prosecute the case because of an “appearance of conflict of interest.” In January, Brandenburg announced murder charges against James Boyd and Dominique Perez, two officers charged for the murder of James Boyd. The two shot Boyd, a homeless man who was illegally camping in the Albuquerque foothills.
Albuquerque was profiled in two major magazines last week but city leaders will not be promoting them any time soon. The New Yorker started the week with an 8,300 word feature that wove the story of the Albuquerque Police Department shooting Christopher Torres in with what is now a litany of shootings and offenses that have become all-too-common when writing about APD. The Torres shooting was in 2011, seemingly a lifetime ago when you run down the timeline of APD shootings and other violations. The Albuquerque Journal timeline only goes up until April 10, 2014 when the Department of Justice announced the findings of its civil rights investigation. The Rolling Stone article used a more recent APD shooting as a launching pad — the 2014 shooting of James Boyd, a homeless man who was illegally camping in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.
New Mexico’s district attorneys walk a difficult tightrope, weighing their roles in criminal courts, where they represent the state and work closely with law enforcement to prosecute crimes, against their political roles in the court of public opinion. For Second Judicial District Attorney Kari Brandenburg, that precarious balance has reached a tipping point. Her approach to officer-involved shootings has shifted over the years, but never so drastically as last week, when she opted to level murder charges against Albuquerque Police Department SWAT member Dominique Perez and now-retired detective Keith Sandy for the March 2014 shooting death of James Boyd. Here’s a look at Brandenburg’s long tenure and some of the events, controversies and scandals that have surrounded her handling of officer-involved shootings. If the timeline does not load, click here for another version.
On Monday, a small group of demonstrators gathered out side the District Attorney’s office in Albuquerque. The group held up signs denouncing the Albuquerque Police Department for recent a string of fatal shootings by police. Tina Kachele of Albuquerque was one of the demonstrators and said she was there to show solidarity with the victims of the recent shootings.