2 MDC officers charged in inmate death arraigned

Crime

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Two Metropolitan Detention Center officers charged in the in-custody death of an inmate were in court Tuesday where they pleaded not guilty. Vicente Villela died in MDC custody back in 2019.

Lieutenant Keith Brandon and Officer Jonathan Sandoval are charged with involuntary manslaughter in the in-custody death of Villela. In 2019, investigators say Brandon told Sandoval to sit on Villela to subdue him.

Video shows at least 11 officers holding Villela down. Villela suffocated and died a few minutes later.

Sandoval’s attorney Sam Bregman asked the case be dismissed because of wording in the grand jury indictment. “But I agree with the state that you would need to file a motion to dismiss based on an improper charge to the grand jury. If that’s in fact what happened,” said Judge Alisa Hart of the Second Judicial District Court.

The judge did not dismiss the case. She is allowing the state to amend the charge.

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