Wednesday, March 31, 1999

                          Las Vegas Review-Journal

 

                          EX-OFFICER PLEADS INNOCENT

 

 

                               Associated Press

                                GALLUP, N.M. -- A former Gallup police officer

                          has pleaded innocent to involuntary manslaughter in the

                          1997 fatal shooting of a used-car dealer.

 

                                Michael Brandau, 29, who now lives in Boulder

                          City, also entered an innocent plea to a charge of

                          negligent use of a weapon in the death of Paul Fitzjerrell,

                          25.

 

                                State District Judge Grant Foutz allowed Brandau to

                          remain free on his own recognizance. Brandau's trial is

                          scheduled for Aug. 10.

 

                                The shooting occurred Nov. 19, 1997, at

                          Fitzjerrell's car lot in Gallup, where the two men were

                          together. Brandau's 9mm pistol was the fatal weapon,

                          and both men had been drinking, District Attorney

                          Forrest Buffington has said. Brandau was off-duty at the

                          time.

 

                                Brandau initially told dispatchers the death appeared

                          to be a suicide, then said it was accidental, according to

                          records.

 

                                A crime lab study concluded Fitzjerrell most likely

                          took the gun from Brandau and shot himself.

 

                                Brandau was fired three months after the shooting

                          for violating departmental policy. But Gallup Police

                          Chief Danny Ross said the firing was not related to

                          Fitzjerrell's death.

 

                                Gallup City Manager David Ruiz later issued a

                          statement saying the Fitzjerrell case was the reason for

                          the firing.