Drunk Cop Killed Woman, Then Was Allowed to Supervise the Investigation, Family Says
ALBUQUERQUE, N. M. (CN) - A drunk police sergeant ran over a woman "repeatedly" and killed her in the parking lot of a gay bar, then had officers that he supervised delay the investigation of her death, the woman's family says. The family claims that Albuquerque police Sgt. Andrew Gallegos admitted he was "blacked out due to intoxication," when Vera Ann Haskell was killed in the parking lot of Sidewinders bar.
Officers working under Gallegos' supervision began the investigation by acquiring video surveillance from the parking lot, according to the complaint in Bernalillo County Court.
The officers "recognized their supervisor, Sergeant Andrew Gallegos as a patron in the Sidewinders Bar," the complaint states. "The maroon colored truck also resembled that belonging to their supervisor, Sergeant Andrew Gallegos."
The family claims that Sidewinder's manager recognized Gallegos from the surveillance video, and said that the sergeant was served alcohol from 8:25 p.m. to 9:42 p.m. that night, April 6, 2008.
They claim that Gallegos had consumed alcohol before he arrived at Sidewinders, "and claims to have been functioning in a 'black out' state while on duty." The family says Gallegos was already drunk when to arrived at Sidewinders that night.
"The visibly intoxicated Sergeant Gallegos sat at the bar and proceeded to have a romantic encounter with a male customer while drinking alcohol served by Sidewinders and Sidewinders should have known that Sergeant Gallegos was visibly intoxicated," according to the complaint.
"According to Sidewinder's surveillance video, Sergeant Gallegos struck Vera Haskell with his vehicle, dragging her and repeatedly running her over in his maroon Ford truck in the Sidewinders parking lot without rendering her assistance," the complaint states.
On April 7, at 3:06 a.m., the investigator, Officer Mock, called Gallegos, "Fatal Team Coordinator and lone suspect, to update him on the investigation," according to the complaint. "Sergeant Gallegos directed that the investigation cease until 8 a.m."
The family says that Officer Mock has "some concern" about that, and "contacted another supervisor and informed him of his concerns." But "The APD supervisors chose not to act or investigate the concerns."
"Sergeant Gallegos was supervising and directing the fatal investigation even after he was APD's primary suspect. This conduct shocks the conscience," the family says.
The family says Gallegos was kept apprised of the investigation as it unfolded, and that "All this inside information was used by Sergeant Gallegos to concoct an alibi and defense after assessing the case against him and retaining an attorney."
Not until 10:45 p.m. on April 7, "over 24 hours after Sergeant Gallegos was recognized as the driver involved in the fatal accident and permitted to supervise his own fatal hit and run investigation," was the matter turned over to the Criminal Investigations Division, "where the investigation continued under the cover of APD," the complaint states.
The Albuquerque police did not "invite" Gallegos to be interviewed until April 8, according to the complaint.
The family sued Gallegos, the city, the Police Department, and the bar. They say the city and its police force intentionally conducted a fraudulent investigation and shielded Gallegos.
Represented by Jacob Vigil, the family demands punitive damages.