Albuquerque police carried out a "fraudulent" investigation into a drunk, on-duty police officer who killed a woman in a hit-and-run after leaving a bar, a lawsuit filed in a New Mexico court states.
On April 6, 2008, Sgt. Andrew Gallegos left an Albuquerque bar where he had been drinking while on duty, got into his pick-up truck and ran over 47-year-old Vera Ann Haskell, says the lawsuit (PDF) filed by Haskell's family.
Gallegos then allegedly fled the scene without notifying police or emergency responders. Haskell died soon afterward.
According to the lawsuit, when investigating officers identified Sgt. Gallegos on security camera footage, they notified Gallegos and even granted his request for a five-hour delay in the investigation.
"Sergeant Gallegos was supervising and directing the fatal investigation even after he was APD's primary suspect," the lawsuit states. "This conduct shocks the conscience."
Haskell was allowed to supervise the investigation for more than a day before the matter was turned over to the department's Criminal Investigations Division, the lawsuit asserts. Two days passed before police searched Gallegos' home, and before they formally interviewed him for the investigation.
According to news reports at the time, Haskell had no fixed address and was struggling with an alcohol problem at the time of her death. She was reportedly passed out next to Gallegos' pick-up truck when he ran her over as he left the parking lot.
According to the PoliceCrimes.com forum, Gallegos was charged in December, 2008, with evidence tampering and leaving the scene of an accident. He was suspended without pay pending the outcome.
In April, 2009, a judge ruled that Gallegos had committed no crime in the incident.
But the Haskell family's lawsuit says the sergeant was given inside information that "was used by Sergeant Gallegos to concoct an alibi and defense."
They are suing Gallegos, the city of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Police Department and the bar where the incident took place.