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Editorial: Public deserves answers to officer’s role in crash

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It’s been almost a week since Albuquerque Police Department Sgt. Adam Casaus’ police-issued SUV T-Boned a Honda CR-V on the city’s West Side, killing the passenger and injuring the driver and the officer.

Since the early Sunday morning crash, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, which is handling the investigation to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, has been sparse with details and lacking answers to the many questions that have arisen.

The sheriff’s office can’t or won’t divulge where the initial report came from that Casaus was looking for a drunken driver, a description of the vehicle and whether the officer or the other driver ran a red light prior to the crash.

Also puzzling is that Casaus’ shift ended at 11 p.m. Saturday and the crash occurred around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. An APD spokeswoman didn’t know whether he was working overtime, where he had been before the crash or where he was going.

It’s highly unlikely those details would still be unknown to investigators six days after the crash. If Lindsay Browder had struck the police vehicle and killed Sgt. Casaus, it’s a good bet the full force of law enforcement would be brought to bear on finding answers, and there would be plenty of information forthcoming to the public.

What is known publicly as of Friday night is that Casaus was heading west on Paseo del Norte with lights and sirens engaged when he struck Browder’s Honda, which was going north on Eagle Ranch Road NW. APD dispatch didn’t put out a drunken driver alert, and Casaus did not call dispatch to report he was looking for a drunken driver. It took almost a week for that information to be released despite requests from news media.

And what is clear to many West Side commuters is the fresh white cross and photographs marking the intersection where Browder’s sister, Ashley Browder, 21, died.

It’s concerning that a police sergeant is at the center of this tragic incident that took the life of a young woman. APD Chief Ray Schultz, with a U.S. Department of Justice investigation on his doorstep, has said one of his top priorities is restoring community trust in APD. An open investigation of the Casaus crash — and any resulting discipline or decision on prosecution — is essential to that goal.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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