NM officer's obstruction trial goes to jury

Authorities say the federal narcotics investigation was derailed after the officer tipped off his friend


By Jeff Proctor
Albuquerque Journal

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The obstruction of justice case against a former Albuquerque police officer accused of tipping off his friend, who was the target of a federal narcotics and stolen merchandise investigation, is now in the hands of a jury.

"Picture a law enforcement officer riding in a car with the target of an investigation and telling him the details of that investigation," Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara Neda said during closing arguments Wednesday in the trial against ex-cop Brad Ahrensfield. "The image is repulsive."

Ahrensfield's attorney, Jason Bowles, countered that Ahrensfield didn't know Bryan was the target of the investigation, much less tell him so.

"If he was not aware of that, he can't act knowingly," Bowles said, adding that prosecutors could not prove Ahrensfield's intention was to derail the investigation.

In April, a different jury found Ahrensfield not guilty of one count of lying to the FBI but couldn't reach a verdict on the obstruction charge. Ahrensfield, a 15-year veteran of APD who resigned in February, was charged after he told his friend Shawn Bryan, owner of The Car Shop, that police were investigating his business. Bryan has not been charged.

APD and the FBI started investigating The Car Shop, where Ahrensfield's son was working, after receiving reports that drugs and stolen goods were being trafficked out of the location. The investigation was derailed after Ahrensfield told Bryan about it, according to Monday testimony from APD Sgt. Ryan Buckner and others.

The jury received the case around 2:15 p.m. Deliberations are expected to continue today at 9 a.m.

Copyright 2010 Albuquerque Journal

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