Agreement resolves claims made by family of young woman killed by off-duty APD sergeant who deliberately ran red light; includes memorial and enactment of protocols designed to protect public, prevent APD personnel from engaging in dangerous driving

Albuquerque, NM – The family of Ashley Browder has reached an agreement with the City of Albuquerque to settle their lawsuit arising from a tragic high-speed collision caused by an off-duty police sergeant in February of 2013. The settlement is thought to be the highest ever paid out by the City in a wrongful death/personal injury case, and includes additional non-monetary considerations which were essential to the agreement.

Ashley Browder, 21, was killed and her sister, Lindsay Browder, 19, was seriously injured just after 1:30 a.m. on February 10, 2013, when then-APD Sergeant Adam Casaus ran a red light at high speed and while off duty, and crashed into the vehicle being driven by Lindsay Browder. The City will pay $8.5 million to settle civil rights claims made on behalf of Lindsay Browder and the estate of Ashley Browder. Ashley and Lindsay’s parents, Chuck and Donna Browder, also were parties to the lawsuit, which was scheduled to go to trial in federal court later this year.

As part of the settlement, the City also agreed to implement new measures in training and oversight which were essential to the Browder family’s agreement to resolve their claims against the City and Adam Casaus prior to trial. The considerations include training protocols for both cadets and current officers designed to emphasize the importance of safe operation of vehicles, including presentations by the Browder family to cadets and a video memorializing Ashley Browder to be watched by cadets and current officers as part of continuing education programs; memorial plaques to be displayed prominently at all APD substations and APD headquarters; bumper stickers on all APD patrol vehicles which provide the public with the means to call in and report dangerous driving; and a streamlining and strengthening of the internal protocols by which APD tracks and processes citizen complaints of dangerous driving involving APD vehicles.

Attorneys for the Browder family, Brian K. Branch and Sean P. McAfee, release the following statement concerning the settlement, on behalf of the Browder family:

“Obviously, no amount of money will ever bring Ashley back to us. 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.”

Adam Casaus was off duty and had driven 8.8 miles across town in less than eight minutes on February 10, 2013 in his marked APD SUV when he turned on his emergency lights and sped through a red light at the intersection of Paseo Del Norte and Eagle Ranch Rd NW. Casaus was traveling in excess of 60 miles per hour, with his foot on the accelerator, when his vehicle struck the passenger side of the Honda CRV being driven northbound on Eagle Ranch by Lindsay Browder, and in which Ashley Browder was a passenger. Ashley Browder died at the scene, Lindsay Browder suffered serious injuries.

Casaus, who had only recently been promoted to sergeant after several years in APD’s traffic enforcement unit, told investigators he had been chasing a vehicle he suspected of “dangerous driving” on Paseo. However, several eye-witnesses at the scene stated no other vehicle had preceded Casaus into the intersection, and Casaus was ultimately fired by APD. Casaus’ law enforcement certification was revoked by the Law Enforcement Academy, he also was convicted of careless driving and served 90 days in jail.

Attorneys Brian K. Branch and Sean P. McAfee, on behalf of the Browder family, filed suit against Casaus and the City in May of 2013, alleging violations of Ashley Browder and Lindsay Browder’s substantive due process rights under the 14th amendment. Attempts by Adam Casaus and the City to have the case dismissed were unsuccessful, including denial of motions to dismiss and for summary judgment, subsequently affirmed by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The case was scheduled to go to trial later this year in front of U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Brack in Las Cruces.

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If you would like more information about this settlement agreement, please contact Brian K. Branch or Sean P. McAfee at 505 764-9710; 505 350-0391; 505 306-4750 or email to smcafee@bkblaw.net and bbranch@bkblaw.net.