DA Who Charged Killer Cops Being Harassed by Other Cops

Here’s a completely unsurprising story. The police in Albuquerque, New Mexico have an absolutely terrible record of misconduct and abuse and the county prosecutor who finally decided to charge two officers who murdered a homeless man is now being harassed by that department in retaliation.

But this isn’t the only way Brandenburg may have paid for her decision to file murder charges. Buried deep in an expansive New Yorker report on Albuquerque’s investigation of police shootings, reporter Rachel Aviv lays out how Brandenburg may have faced other personal pressures aimed at intimidating her out of using her enforcement powers.

As the nation grapples to figure out why cops are so rarely punished for using deadly force, the story of Albuquerque is a window into what can happen when local officials do try to punish their own police for perceived wrongdoing.

Last October, Brandenburg told an attorney for the police union that she was considering filing charges against the cops who killed James Boyd, a homeless schizophrenic man approached by the officers for sleeping in the Albuquerque foothills. “Within weeks, Brandenburg found herself the target of an investigation by the Albuquerque Police Department,” Aviv explains.

The investigation related to theft by Brandenburg’s son, who had stolen money from friends to feed his heroin addiction. Brandenburg had offered to pay back the victims of the theft, and somewhere along the way, police developed a claim that Brandenburg had bribed witnesses related to the case.

A detective working on the case admitted in a recording that the claims were “super-weak — it’s probably not gonna go anywhere,” but “it’s gonna destroy her career.”

I’ve interviewed police officers off the record who were terrified of ever blowing the whistle on other cops. They’ve told me that they know there are officers in their department who routinely engage in misconduct — violating the rights of suspects, planting evidence (usually drugs) on them, physically abusing them — but that they’re too afraid to say anything because they’ll be seen as a traitor and become a target. The thin blue line is real and it covers up an enormous amount of abuse and misconduct.

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  • dugglebogey

    This is the reason why it is very unlikely for prosecutors in places like Ferguson to actually try to get an indictment against police officers. Not only do they work directly with the police, they know that they are likely to face harassment and retaliation from the other cops in the area.

  • marcus

    I guess that does help partly explain the reliance on grand juries, i.e., plausible deniability .

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Look, nobody’s saying that the police are perfect, but we have to allow them some wiggle room. I mean, they work hard everyday, planting evidence on people, strangling them to death, repeatedly tazing them to death, shooting them to death, or fighting to ensure they and theirs receive no comeuppance; all to Keep Us Safe.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Oh, wow. They threatened a Joe Arpaio investigation to intimidate her?

    She’s lucky that she wasn’t fatally shot while attempting to run down a cop with her car.

  • kantalope

    She’s lucky she wasn’t shot for lurking with intent!

  • mkoormtbaalt

    The police have insulated themselves within society. This thin blue line is your run of the mill tribalism. They say, “We’re the cops and we have to protect ourselves from THEM” where them is anyone who isn’t or wasn’t a cop. Before we can get cops to turn one another in for wrong doing and to stop pursuing those who do try to bring justice to police departments, we have to assimilate them into the communities. It’s not the cop and the community, it is just the community.

  • caseloweraz

    One word: Serpico

  • abb3w

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes….

  • Artor

    And this is why there are practically no good cops. They enable this shit, even when they know it’s going on all around them. I don’t believe every cop is a psychopath, but there seems to be enough of them that look out for the psychopaths, that the rare conscientious cop can’t speak out without fear for their career or their life.

  • laurentweppe

    This is the reason why it is very unlikely for prosecutors in places like Ferguson to actually try to get an indictment against police officers. Not only do they work directly with the police, they know that they are likely to face harassment and retaliation from the other cops in the area.

    France has “depaysement” procedures: When the local context makes it impossible for courts to judge serenely an affair, it is transferred to magistrates in another, distant court, which among other things makes harassing them and their family much harder.

  • equisetum

    Another word: Schoolcraft.