By DAVID CORREIA
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s department announced today that it has prepared a criminal complaint against Albuquerque Police Department Sergeant Adam Casaus for vehicular homicide in the February 10 death of 21-year old Ashley Browder. At the time of the accident, the off-duty Casaus claimed to be in high-speed pursuit of a DWI suspect when he entered the intersection of Paseo del Norte and Eagle Ranch Road on Albuquerque’s west-side traveling in excess of 70 miles per hour. Casaus claimed at the scene that he had used both his lights and sirens. The investigators concluded, however, that Casaus did not activate his sirens nor did he slow and clear the intersection prior to entering, a practice required by policy of APD.
Ashley Browder died at the scene. Her younger sister Lindsay, who was driving the car, was seriously injured and transported to the University of New Mexico hospital where she was treated for a broken back.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 9 in District Court where the District Attorney’s office will present the complaint. Casaus will not be charged unless the district judge at the preliminary hearing finds probable cause that Casaus committed vehicular homicide by reckless driving and/or great bodily injury by vehicle involving reckless driving. Both charges are felony offenses.
The Office of District Attorney has chosen not to pursue the case via the special grand juries reserved for cases involving police officers, a practice that has been recent policy of the office. The special grand juries have come under fire in recent years because no police officer brought before a special grand jury has ever been charged with a crime.
Albuquerque Police Department Chief Ray Schultz, who recently announced his resignation after critics–including Albuquerque City Councilors–questioned his leadership of a department that has killed 17 people, many unarmed, since 2010, placed Casaus on paid leave.