If you don’t like where you are, at least you have one thing going for you: it’s not Albuquerque. Unless, you live in Albuquerque, in which case you’re screwed. Sure, they executed a homeless guy because, well, they could. Sure, the DoJ found that the APD “engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment and Section 14141.”
But then there were five months, five whole months, where the Albuquerque police didn’t kill anyone. Not a single person! Problem solved, and ABQ was back on the list of great places not to get killed by cops, right? Not so fast.
“Undercover narcotics work is probably some of the most dangerous work that we do in law enforcement,” Eden said on Saturday. “Due to the nature of those undercover operations it’s impractical for those narcotics officers, those narcotics detectives, to wear body armor. It’s very impractical for them to wear on-body cameras.”
Well, sure. It wouldn’t work well to wear body armor or cameras when making a minor buy and bust from small time, unarmed meth dealers. That would be a dead give-away. Oh, but that’s wasn’t the problem.
An undercover narcotics officer nearly died on Friday after he was shot by an Albuquerque police officer during a drug bust over $60 of methamphetamine.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, Police Chief Gorden Eden announced on Saturday that the undercover officer was in critical condition. However, Eden did not name any of the officers who were involved in the shooting.
It wasn’t the dangers of undercover work that ended in the undercover being shot. The bullet came from an Albuquerque cop. An unnamed cop. Who shot another unnamed cop.
The shooting occurred after [Det. Holly] Garcia drove to a nearby McDonald’s and gave the signal for officers to move in for the drug bust. An undercover officer was shot multiple times, police said. Witnesses reported hearing around five gunshots.
Five shots? That’s a lot of shots. Not an “accidental” discharge, but a cop who decided that someone needed to be shot.
Police declined to detail what went wrong during the drug bust, and they did not say why the officer opened fire. But the criminal complaint said nothing about the suspects being armed.
As police have gone to significant lengths to explain of late, it’s very dangerous work, as they face evil and risk their lives to protect us. There are statistics kept, and even smooth talkers who try to use them to make cops feel less heroic than cops know themselves to be. This undercover cop, whose job is very dangerous, will likely end up in those statistics. Will there be an asterisk next to it?
Under other circumstances, this would be where the police revealed the shooter’s criminal history, the number of times he was arrested, usually without regard to the trivial nature of the charges or the outcome, since arrests tend to be more numerous and serious than convictions. But not this time.
Eden insisted that the officer who shot his colleague felt “devastated.” He said that the lieutenant had been placed on administrative leave while the incident was investigated.
While many have doubts that police officers are particularly devastated when they shoot another human being, this time is likely different. After all, shooting a fellow police officer isn’t the same as shooting a non-cop, who probably had it coming anyway.
Much as the foregoing may serve to juxtapose the differences between what happens when a non-cop is shot, maybe killed, and much as the occasional gross error of a cop shooting another cop, an undercover cop, reflects a horrible mistake, the fact remains that bad things happen when force, particularly deadly force, is used in the first resort.
We don’t need all the details to be able to safely assume the undercover officer was not a threat to their peers, yet they were shot anyway. Media is discussing this event using words like “tragedy” and “accident” while ignoring the fact that this is a symptom of a much larger problem, and it seems that an officer once again shot someone who posed no threat to them.
What makes this shooting distinct is that there can be no excuse where the undercover cop did something to give rise to a threat of death or serious injury to the cop who shot him. Five times. The suspects had no guns, so there was nothing on their end. The undercover probably was armed, but he wasn’t going to shoot his fellow cop.
What twist can the Albuquerque police give this to turn it into something that doesn’t impugn the shooter? Perhaps someone there has a sufficiently vivid imagination to come up with some story that doesn’t make them look bad?
While a snarky answer would be that, on the bright side, after five months of shooting no one, the Albuquerque police still haven’t shot any non-cops. But then, cops’ lives matter too. Just like non-cops.
The idea isn’t that cops shouldn’t go home for dinner, but that everyone should. That means the cops don’t shoot people for the hell of it, even if the target of their five shots is an undercover.
Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg has confirmed to the NM Political Report that she will charge two Albuquerque police officers with murder for the shooting of a homeless camper in the city’s foothills in March of 2014.
To put this in perspective
The announcement expected today would be the first time police officers were charged in connection with an officer-involved shooting. The officers are expected to be charged with open counts of murder through a process known as a “criminal information” filing. In this case the prosecutor files charges on paper and triggers a public preliminary hearing which acts as a mini-trial where both the prosecutor and defense present evidence to a judge who decides if probable cause exists for a full trial.
As opposed to a sham grand jury proceeding designed to give the appearance of prosecution while assuring that no indictment will come of it.
H/T Mike Paar