04/07/2006

N.M. DPS looks at bar's role in cop crash

JEFF PROCTOR Journal Staff Writer

Copyright 2006 Albuquerque Journal

The New Mexico Department of Public Safety is investigating whether a Northeast Heights bar - where an Albuquerque police officer allegedly drank before crashing his squad car last month - broke any laws.

Brandon Wilcox, who resigned from APD, had been drinking at Graham Central Station, 4770 Montgomery NE, before the March 9 crash occurred.

Peter Olson, a DPS spokesman, said he didn't know what charges the bar could face.

"It would be way too early to even guess," Olson said. "This is not something that's going to be quick."

He declined to elaborate on the investigation.

Steve Sanchez, the bar's general manager, said he hasn't been contacted by DPS.

"I'm not aware of anything that's going on at all right now," Sanchez said Thursday.

Wilcox, 25, made it home from the bar, but then went back out in his take-home patrol car, police said. The crash occurred in the 5500 block of Comanche NE.

When police arrived at the scene, they found Wilcox's younger brother, Bryan, in the driver's seat. After questioning the younger Wilcox, police discovered Brandon Wilcox crashed the car.

When police went to his home, Wilcox "performed poorly" on sobriety tests, and his blood-alcohol content was 0.20, police said. He was jailed on a charge of aggravated DWI.

Authorities also learned APD Officer Sara Harris knew of the crash and didn't report it. Harris was in uniform and working an overtime shift the night of the crash at Graham Central Station. She left her post to pick up Wilcox at the scene of the crash.

Harris has since been recommended for termination and is awaiting a hearing. 
 
April 7, 2006

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