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City settles lawsuit in fatal 2013 crash involving APD officer

J.R. Oppenheim and Caleb James
March 17, 2017 10:07 PM

The City of Albuquerque reached a settlement agreement with the family of a woman killed when an Albuquerque Police Department officer ran a red light and caused a crash.

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The city will pay $8.5 million to Ashley Browder's family, according to a press release from the law firm representing the family. The 21-year-old Browder died on Feb. 10, 2013, when then-APD Sgt. Adam Casaus sped through a red light at Paseo del Norte and Eagle Ranch Road and collided with Browder's car. Ashley Browder's sister, Lindsay, was seriously injured.

The agreement is believed to be the highest-ever wrongful death settlement for the city.

Casaus was off duty and in a marked APD unit at the time of the crash, and he reportedly told investigators he pursued a vehicle he believed was driving dangerously. Casaus was later fired and had his law enforcement certificate revoked, according to the release.

The Law Office of Brian K. Branch also released a statement on the Browder family's behalf.

“Obviously, no amount of money will ever bring Ashley back to us," the Browder statement says. "What made this settlement possible was the City’s willingness to take steps to ensure its police officers never forget who they serve, and keep the safety of the public as their reason for every action they undertake. This must never happen, ever again.”

Click here to read the full press release.

Casaus spent 90 days in jail after a conviction for careless driving.

Albuquerque City Attorney Jessica Hernandez said Casaus's actions caused the city to be legally responsible. She said the city will take action to ensure APD recognizes the dangers of reckless driving.

"It is the City’s hope that this settlement will help give the Browder family and the community some sense of closure," Hernandez said. "Nothing can undo the damage caused to the Browder family. However, we will work in partnership with the Browder family to honor Ashley’s memory and provide additional training to APD officers to reduce the likelihood of a tragedy like this from occurring again."

The Browder family fought for meaningful reform as part of the settlement package. It includes a new safe driver training program for cadets and memorial plaques commemorating Ashley's life to be installed in every single APD station and substation.

It serves "both as a memorial to Ashley but also as a reminder to officers of what can happen," Branch said.

The settlement will include a resource for the public to help police the police. Bumper stickers on each marked patrol car will now give the drivers a number to call to report unsafe driving. It's reform only accepted by the family because they felt they had teeth.

"They are calculated to insure that our police department and our police department and our police officers never forget that it's us they serve," attorney Sean McAfee said.

Credits

J.R. Oppenheim and Caleb James

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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