Cleared of Wife’s Murder, Cop Sues Sheriff

ALBUQUERQUE (CN) – It took six years for Albuquerque police Officer Levi Chavez to clear himself of charges of murdering his wife, and now he’s sued the Sheriff’s Office and the officer who investigated him.
     Chavez found his estranged wife Tera dead of a gunshot wound in the living room of their home in 2007. The case made national news when Officer Chavez’s sexual history became known, including affairs with fellow police officers, and that he spent the night before his wife was killed with his current girlfriend. By the time the case ended, the Albuquerque was under federal, and national, scrutiny for its history of civil rights violations.
     The coroner initially called it a suicide because of the proximity of Chavez’s police-issued Glock pistol to the body. But Chavez was charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence.
     In his July 15 federal lawsuit, he claims the Valencia County Sheriff’s Department and Det. Aaron Jones used lies, intimidation and extortion of witnesses to build the case against him.
     Despite the evidence of suicide, Chavez claims, “Jones tirelessly engaged in his witch hunt for a corrupt police officer … in controversion of all of the evidence.”
     Among other things, he claims that Jones “corrupt[ed] the process of the medical investigator’s investigation and findings; corrupt[ed] the process of the insurance fraud investigator’s investigation and findings” and fabricated evidence that he had just bought a life insurance policy on his wife.
     Even after the Sheriff’s Office declared publicly that it was dropping the investigation, Jones continued to lie to the press, to the medical examiner and to insurance investigators, Chavez claims.
     The day after a jury acquitted him, The Associated Press reported that Chavez acknowledged he had ignored 176 calls from his wife the day before he found her dead.
     He seeks punitive damages for defamation, tortious interference, and constitutional violations.
     He is represented by Hans William Voss of Albuquerque.
     None of the parties were immediately available for comment Thursday.

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