Mimesis Law
21 May 2019

Cop vs. Cop: About Those Last Seven Shots

Sept. 3, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — There’s usually an excuse, a way out from under the unfortunate outcome that just couldn’t be helped. The guy did something, something, to cause that first shot to be fired. Something.

Not this time.

The officer who shot the other two is Lieutenant Greg Brachle. Detective Jacob Grant is the officer who was shot three times during the incident and Detective Holly Garcia suffered shrapnel wounds.

All three officers were working undercover during the incident. Detective Garcia was in the driver’s seat of the car and Detective Grant was immediately behind her when the shooting occurred.

It was a buy and bust operation by the Albuquerque police, a force for which violence happens with terrible frequency. The undercovers were to make a $60 purchase of meth, then take down the seller. Happens every day.

Then, the suspects decided to switch the meet-up location.

“You’ve got everything set up the way you think you want to do it and it doesn’t happen that way,” Brown said. “That changed the whole dynamics of how everything happened.”

Brown says the bust went sideways.

Sideways is a poor characterization of what happened when “the whole dynamics” change.  It went straight down the tubes, with Detective Jacob Grant looking into the eyes of his lieutenant as he put two bullets into him.

Yet at a distance of less than 5 feet, he opened fire on Detective Grant.

The case says Brachle shot twice, then “repositioned himself.” Grant pleaded with Brachle to “please stop shooting,” according to the lawsuit.

Brachle had been Grant’s supervisor for two years. They were there together for the operation. Brachle was five feet away from Grant, who wore no protective gear that would obscure his face or identity.

Brachle then shot seven more times, emptying his weapon.

The first bullet, and even the second, could conceivably be some anxiety-driven, mind-bogglingly incompetent reaction to fear.  Even guys with years in and bars on the collars of their dress uniform are fraidy cats, when things go down bad.

But it’s the next seven bullets, the ones fired after Brachle “repositioned” himself, as Grant pleaded with him to stop shooting, that cause one’s head to shake.

Was this a Serpico thing, some hate that Brachle had on Grant, and an opportune time to kill him?  It’s possible, though a particularly bad plan if that’s what the Lieutenant had in mind.

Despite the human need to strive to find a rational explanation for how and why some horrible thing happened, this one is tough.  It couldn’t be something Grant did, given that he was a cop and, if he did anything, it was by definition within the scope of stuff cops do when engaged in undercover operations.

In suing for his injuries, Det. Grant offers this reason for his boss shooting him, then shooting him some more.

The case is pointed, saying, “Lieutenant Brachle’s actions and omissions, coupled with his excessive zeal, undue aggression, reckless, intentional or deliberate conduct, shocks the conscience and amounts to an abuse of power.”

The case also claims Brachle had a history of erratic, problematic, or otherwise unpredictable or questionable behavior and had been disciplined before.

These aren’t the allegations of some hooligan on the street, and his hungry mouthpiece willing to say anything about a cop to snake a few bucks out of the very large Albuquerque fund for police shootings. This is a cop talking about another cop. This is a cop talking about his lieutenant.

Try as one might, there is no rationalization, no excuse, no narrative or story line, that makes sense of what happened here.  Except one: Lt. Brachle was a dangerous guy with an Albuquerque shield and gun, who was all too willing to use it. Against anyone. Even one of his own.

4 Comments on this post.

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  • Greg Prickett
    4 September 2015 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    Was this a Serpico thing, some hate that Brachle had on Grant, and an opportune time to kill him? It’s possible, though a particularly bad plan if that’s what the Lieutenant had in mind.

    I doubt that it was anything of the sort. Note that this is from Albuquerque where the cops have been out of control for a while (see James Boyd and the DOJ settlement).

    Here you have a supervisor who can’t be troubled to attend the pre-op briefing and who then inserts himself in the middle of the operation. It is a recipe for disaster and violated every one of the many safety procedures established to prevent this type of thing from happening.

    • shg
      4 September 2015 at 4:50 pm - Reply

      Yeah, I didn’t think it was a Serpico either. There just wasn’t a good explanation (and yes, ABQ is way out of control, but not shooting it up their own. Just everyone else).

      But your explanation fails to address the last seven shots. Five feet away, point blank, looking at his own detective face, hearing his pleas, and still he fires another seven times. That’s not a safety procedure violation.

      • Greg Prickett
        4 September 2015 at 5:00 pm - Reply

        Nah, that’s likely tunnel vision and auditory exclusion.

        It happened to me when I got shot at, along with everything being in slow motion. But it’s variable, because it didn’t happen in other situations.

        I don’t think that the Lt. heard a word Grant said.

        Good police depts. know that tunnel vision and auditory exclusion happen, which is one of the reasons for very detailed pre-op briefings, sometimes down to the point of rehearsals or walk-thrus. So I do see this as a safety procedure violation.

        The likely cause is that the Lt. thought that he knew enough about the operations that he didn’t need to be briefed. Interestingly, those are the very people who you want to be briefed.

        • shg
          4 September 2015 at 5:09 pm - Reply

          You know what they call tunnel vision and auditory exclusion when it happens to a non-cop?

          A righteous shoot.