Former Albuquerque police officer Lou Golson has filed a lawsuit alleging a local car dealership’s negligence put Christopher Cook in possession of the vehicle he was driving when he shot Golson repeatedly in 2015.
The lawsuit, filed in 2nd Judicial District Court on Dec. 27, came just a week before the third anniversary of the traffic stop that left Golson — a 31-year veteran of the Albuquerque Police Department — with lasting injuries.
According to the lawsuit, Cook arrived at That Car Place, a used car dealership located on Wyoming near Lomas, on Jan. 2, 2015, and asked to test drive an SUV. But when employees left Cook alone with the running, unlocked vehicle, he took off.
Golson alleges dealership employees never asked to see Cook’s license, nor did they perform a background check on him. If they had, the lawsuit argues, they would have learned that Cook had a criminal record and a suspended or revoked license. And the dealership did not have security measures in place to stop Cook, or anyone else, from taking their vehicles, the suit alleges.
He said that if the dealership had not given him access to the vehicle, “that he took and never returned…I would have never gotten shot.”
After the SUV was taken from their lot, employees failed to “timely” report the theft, “allowing (Cook) additional time to not be apprehended and to avoid or delay apprehension,” according to the lawsuit.
Cook, who is also named as a defendant in the suit, was sentenced in July 2015 to 20 years in prison and is currently housed in the state penitentiary in Santa Fe.
According to police, Cook arrived at the dealership in a stolen car, and the SUV was taken from That Car Place around 10 a.m. An employee told police that he left the car warming up in the lot while he returned to the office to find an ice scraper. That’s when Cook got in the vehicle and drove away.
Golson was shot around 2:30 a.m. the next day after stopping Cook on suspicion of DWI.
As Golson approached, police said, Cook opened the SUV’s door and fired multiple rounds, hitting Golson’s leg and bulletproof vest. Golson also broke his wrist as he fell to the ground.
That Car Place did not respond to requests for comment.
Golson is seeking damages including medical expenses, wage losses, pain and suffering, and other relief. He has spoken publicly in recent weeks about the injuries he sustained, the medical bills, the struggle to survive financially, and the frustrations of trying to settle his worker’s compensation claim with the city.
Golson said Wednesday that the shooting left him medically unqualified to return to work as a police officer. He still receives periodic injections to help manage pain, he needs help putting on his shoes and he sometimes uses a cane. He is now retired from the department.
“I want to make sure that, you know, these dealerships are following the rules,” Golson said. “They just don’t think it’s important, but it is. I mean, I don’t want this happening to any other officers because I have three kids in law enforcement.”