‘It should be burned into our hearts and souls’

APD un­veils plaques hon­or­ing woman killed in crash with cop

Albuquerque Journal - - METRO & NM - BY RYAN BOETEL JOUR­NAL STAFF WRITER

The case is a black eye for the Al­bu­querque Po­lice De­part­ment.

And cur­rent and fu­ture of­fi­cers will now be re­minded of the case ev­ery day.

Al­bu­querque po­lice, dur­ing a cer­e­mony along­side Ash­ley Brow­der’s fam­ily on Tues­day, un­veiled plaques that will be placed through­out city po­lice build­ings. The memo­ri­als honor the late 21-year-old killed in a crash with a po­lice of­fi­cer and serve as a warn­ing for of­fi­cers.

They are a con­di­tion of a set­tle­ment be­tween the Brow­der fam­ily and the city that was reached last year. The city also paid $8.5 mil­lion — be­lieved to be the largest paid out in a wrong­ful death/per­sonal in­jury case in the city’s his­tory — and had to in­cor­po­rate ad­di­tional train­ing into the academy and put “How’s My Driv­ing” bumper stick­ers on po­lice cars to set­tle a law­suit brought by the Brow­der fam­ily.

“The com­mu­nity ... wants noth­ing more than to sup­port you, we re­ally do,” Chuck Brow­der, Ash­ley’s fa­ther, told po­lice cadets dur­ing the cer­e­mony. “You are go­ing to make mis­takes along the way. Al­ways main­tain in­tegrity. Own your mis­takes. The com­mu­nity will for­give those who take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their ac­tions. Do not risk your ca­reer, your rep­u­ta­tion and the in­tegrity of your po­lice de­part­ment by hid­ing the truth for self preser­va­tion.”

Ash­ley Brow­der, who was in the Na­tional Guard, was killed when for­mer Al­bu­querque po­lice Sgt. Adam Casaus, off duty and driv­ing a marked pa­trol unit at over 60 mph, slammed into a car car­ry­ing Brow­der and be­ing driven by her sis­ter Lind­say on Paseo del Norte and Ea­gle Ranch NW in Fe­bru­ary 2013.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors con­cluded that Casaus was speed-

ing west on Paseo and ran a red light. Casaus said that he was chas­ing a driver he sus­pected of driv­ing dan­ger­ously but wit­nesses con­tra­dicted Casaus’ claims.

Af­ter be­ing fired, Casaus was charged with crimes re­lated to the wreck. He was con­victed of a lesser charge of care­less driv­ing in 2014 and spent 90 days in jail. The state re­voked his law en­force­ment cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“It is the mis­sions of the Al­bu­querque Po­lice De­part­ment to pre­serve the peace and pro­tect our com­mu­nity. Adam Casaus acted con­trary to this mis­sion when he drove his duty is­sued ve­hi­cle in an un­law­ful man­ner killing Ash­ley Brow­der and se­ri­ously in­jur­ing her sis­ter, Lind­say Brow­der,” the plaque reads. “He was ter­mi­nated from the Al­bu­querque Po­lice De­part­ment, crim­i­nally pros­e­cuted, con­victed; and served jail time for his mis­con­duct. As law en­force­ment of­fi­cers, re­mem­ber that you have been en­trusted to pro­tect and pre­serve the pub­lic safety.”

The plaque then pleads with of­fi­cers to drive re­spon­si­bly.

“The lack of re­gard for hu­man life on the part of Adam Casaus on the fate­ful night took away all the dreams and as­pi­ra­tions of an amaz­ing woman,” Al­bu­querque po­lice Chief Michael Geier said at the event, which was at­tended by cadets, of­fi­cers, city of­fi­cials and Ash­ley Brow­der’s friends and fam­ily. “Her legacy will live on not only on the walls of our fa­cil­i­ties, but it should be burned into our hearts and souls.”

ADOLPHE PIERRE-LOUIS/JOUR­NAL

Ash­ley Brow­der’s par­ents, Chuck Brow­der, left, and Donna Brow­der, cen­ter, at­tend a cer­e­mony to honor Ash­ley Brow­der with Ash­ley’s sis­ter, Lind­say, cen­ter right. Ash­ley Brow­der was killed af­ter be­ing in a car crash caused by a for­mer Al­bu­querque po­lice sergeant. APD Chief Michael Geier, right, speaks dur­ing the cer­e­mony.

Ash­ley Brow­der

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