ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Two Metropolitan Detention Center officers charged for the death of an inmate in 2019 were found not guilty Tuesday. Keith Brandon and Jonathan Sandoval were facing charges of involuntary manslaughter for the death of Vincente Villela.

The state argued it was a case of excessive use of force and that Sandoval kept his knee of Villela’s back. The defense argued the death could not be attributed to any one officer and a toxicology report found high levels of meth in Villela’s system. Ultimately a jury announced they had reached a not guilty verdict.

Attorney Sam Bregman said there wasn’t enough evidence that would find the officers guilty.

“Of course they’re relief, they’ve been charged criminally, they are sworn to up hold the law, the idea is so contrary to their beliefs,” said Bregman.

A Bernalillo County spokesperson tells us they will be re-instated if they choose to be.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas issued a statement:

“Tragedies in our justice system are very difficult on all the impacted families, and while we are grateful to the jury and the Court for their service, it is important to give voice to victims like Vincente Villela.”