It was one of the sickest crimes that many in Albuquerque had ever seen; so grotesque, destructive and brazen that even veteran Albuquerque Police Department officials, many of whom had spent their entire careers dealing with the most heinous of crimes, could only stammer and sputter in outrage and disbelief at the terrible act.
The cops knew the criminal’s identity, and they went after him with a righteous vengeance and grim determination that they hoped would purify the city’s blackened soul. And once they and others were through with this calculating and unrepentant monster, no one—no one!—would ever again dare address the City Council and the Police Oversight Committee for longer than two minutes.
APD officer Mark Bralley was the fiend who had become the Two Minute Criminal for exercising his free-speech rights to criticize the committee and talk longer than two minutes when addressing them in the City Council chambers.
It was my favorite story in three years as the Alibi’s news editor.
Bralley was a veteran cop who had always spoken out against the goofiness at APD, usually to the disgust of department brass. Now it was 1999 and Bralley had problems with the brand-new oversight committee and he wouldn’t stop criticizing committee members. That Bralley dared criticize the committee in public meetings was reprehensible enough to its members and APD leaders. That he broke the committee’s rule about being able to speak for only two minutes when addressing them made them crazy.
Bralley’s mouth had to be shut, and he had to be punished. APD launched an internal affairs investigation into Bralley and his propensity to talk for longer than two minutes. A hearing was set. Police union rules said cops could bring a lawyer and a representative to the IA hearing. Bralley asked me to be his representative. I agreed to be there as a reporter.
The meeting took place in December at IA headquarters on the first floor of the old City Hall building. It quickly turned bizarre. Bralley, a former cop union representative, set up a digital camera to record everything. The investigating officer, a sergeant, was aghast but couldn’t shut it down. The sergeant began asking questions. Bralley’s attorney, Paul Livingston, began objecting. The sergeant became frustrated and angry and ordered Livingston out of the room. Livingston refused the order. The sergeant called another cop into the room to forcibly remove Livingston.
Livingston fell to the floor when the cop grabbed him and was eventually dragged out of the room. At one point, Bralley tried to stop the ejection of his lawyer by placing his hand on the sergeant’s shoulder and saying, “We don’t have to handle it this way.” The sergeant shouted, “Unhand me, Officer Bralley!” Bralley was charged with misdemeanor battery.
We ran a lengthy story, complete with stills from Bralley’s camera, and Bralley became known as the Two Minute Criminal. APD was embarrassed.
I came to the Alibi in July of 1998 after spending 13 years with the Albuquerque Tribune. The Alibi offered an opportunity to build a news department from scratch and with pretty much total freedom. The mainstream media was becoming stale, cautious and boring, and I saw alternative newspapers and the Alibi as places to do the kind of hard-hitting reporting and opinion writing that made a difference and kept people from being bored to death.
I was laid off from the Alibi in June 2001 and hooked up with the New Mexico Business Weekly. Since then, I’ve published several books, including my continuing I Got Stinky Feet series of comic novels and When the Boomers Bail by Mark Lautman. In 2010, I wrote and published a book for an Albuquerque businessman who, as a kid, was raped by a Catholic priest. Raped: Memories of a Catholic Altar Boy got a damn good review from the Alibi.
In addition to my reporting work, I run Logan Square Press and write and edit books.