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Albuquerque police officer faces 2 suits for on-duty crashes

June 21, 2017 • State News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Albuquerque police officer who has been in at least five on-duty vehicle crashes in the past three years is facing lawsuits in connection with two of the crashes.

Officer Patrick Casias was sued in March and then again last week, The Albuquerque Journal reported (http://bit.ly/2rSLNff).

Both lawsuits were filed in state district court and are [auth] seeking damages.

The first lawsuit against Casias, brought by Belinda Labrado of El Paso, accused Casias of carelessness and negligence in a three-car crash.

The most recent lawsuit was brought by Lidia Leslie, who accuses Casias of crashing into her vehicle in July 2016. The lawsuit claims Casias was responding to a stolen vehicle call and had his lights on but no sirens.

Celina Espinoza, a police spokeswoman, said both the crashes that led to the recent lawsuits were found to be “non-preventable” by the city’s Safety Review Board, and Casias wasn’t disciplined.

Albuquerque police pointed out the many hours officers spend in their cars each day.

The lawsuits come at a time when the department faces scrutiny for the number of crashes its officers have been involved in.

Albuquerque’s Police Oversight Board recently asked for a presentation from the department about its crash statistics compared to other departments. The board received a limited presentation earlier this month that didn’t answer many of the board’s questions.

Police officials have said they are continuing to work to compile crash data from other police departments.

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