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‘It should be burned into our hearts and souls’

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From left, Chuck Browder is joined by his wife, Donna Browder, and his daughter Lindsay Browder as Police Chief Michael Geier speaks at the unveiling of a plaque honoring the memory of their daughter Ashley Browder, who was killed five years ago in a car crash involving Albuquerque Police Department officer Adam Casaus. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — 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 speeding 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.

Ashley Browder

Adam Casaus

“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.”

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