Why did Adam Casaus lie about 2013's fatal car crash – and to whom exactly did he lie, Internal Affairs investigators or a jury?
IA Investigator Testimony: Adam Casaus Lied
BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI
The way Albuquerque Police Internal Affairs Detective Anastacio Zamora sees it, former APD Sgt. Adam Casaus lied to someone—either to him or a jury—when he talked about whether he had a red or a green light in 2013 when he was involved in a car crash that killed a woman and injured her sister.
Casaus was an APD sergeant on Feb 10, 2013 when, in the early morning hours, witnesses said he ran a red light at Paseo del Norte and Eagle Ranch Road and slammed his police department SUV into a vehicle and killed 21-year-old Ashley Browder and injured her younger sister, Lindsay.
Casaus was charged with vehicular homicide and reckless driving, and during his trial in 2014, he testified that he had a green light when he sped through the intersection westbound on Paseo while allegedly chasing a vehicle he said was driving erratically. Casaus was convicted of two counts of a lesser charge of careless driving, a misdemeanor.
But now, Zamora, the APD detective who interviewed Casaus about the crash during an IA investigation, says that Casaus told him that he had a red light that day. And Zamora says he believed that Casaus lied, either to him, or to the jury.
Zamora’s testimony came last week during a hearing before a New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy hearing officer where Casaus was trying to get his license to be a police officer reinstated. During the hearing, Assistant New Mexico Atty. Gen. Josh Granata asked Zamora to read from the interview he did with Casaus after the incident.
Here’s some of the testimony:
Zamora: “I informed Sergeant Casaus that in his statements he also indicated he had observed a vehicle stopped in the right lane at the intersection. He [Casaus] stated, ‘Yes sir.’ I asked him why [was] this vehicle stopped. He stated, ‘Because of the red light.’ I asked, confirmed, that this light was red for westbound traffic on Paseo. He stated, ‘Yes sir.’ I asked Sergeant Casaus if he had stopped for the red light. He stated, ‘I did not, sir.’ I asked him why he did not stop. He stated, ‘I believed I cleared the intersection to the best of my ability and deemed it safe to travel through it with my emergency equipment on.’”
Granata: “As you read this paragraph is there anything that indicates that Sergeant Casaus had a green light?”
Zamora: “No sir.”
Granata: “After this interview did Sergeant Casaus clarify and indicate that he had a green light?”
Zamora: “No sir.”
Granata then read from Casaus’ trial testimony where Casaus said the light at the intersection was red when he approached it and then turned green. After reading Casaus’ trial testimony, Granata asked Zamora:
“Does that statement that he [Casaus] provided at the criminal trial differ from the statements that he provided to you?”
Granata: “How did they differ?”
Zamora: “He said the light was red.”
Granata: “So is it fair to say that Mr. Casaus was lying to you? Or was he lying in the criminal trial?”
Zamora: “One or the other.”
The issue of honesty is crucial to Casaus’ attempt to regain his law enforcement license because dishonesty is one of the reasons for revoking an officer’s certification, or denying an applicant from being certified.
Casaus’ attorney, John D’Amato, told ABQ Free Press that his client never lied, not during the IA investigation nor during his criminal trial.
Attorney Sean McAfee, who represents the the Browder family in a civil rights lawsuit against Casaus, said he couldn’t comment on Zamora’s testimony other than to say, “On behalf of the family, they are very hopeful that he [Casaus] is not certified to be a law enforcement officer anytime, anywhere again.”
Dennis Domrzalski is news editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Photo credit: koat.com)
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