Prosecutor: More test results needed in fatal crash

Mary Castillo, 56, died from injuries received in a crash with a Clovis police officer.

As long as justice is served, Tita Romero doesn’t care whether it takes one day or 30 to complete an investigation into the crash that took her sister’s life.

Monday, District Attorney Matt Chandler said until lab results and cell phone and medical records are received — which could take up to 30 days — he will not make a determination on possible charges against Clovis Police Officer Steven Gallegos for the crash that killed 56-year-old Mary Castillo.

“It appears that excessive speed and lack of attentiveness on the officer’s part played a role in the crash,” Chandler said in a press release.

“However, to finalize the investigation we also need test results of blood drawn from those involved in the crash, cellular phone records of the officer involved, and the medical records of those that were injured in the crash.”

Chandler said it could take “approximately 30 days to obtain these necessary tests and reports, and issuing any legal opinion prior to receiving this information would be premature on my part.”

Police said preliminary information indicated Gallegos ran a stop sign on Grand Avenue at Sycamore Street, striking a pickup truck in which Castillo was a passenger.

Gallegos was on routine patrol and not en route to a call when the crash occurred, according to Chief Steve Sanders.

Castillo died Nov. 18 at a Lubbock hospital the day after the crash.
Romero said the investigation has been frustrating and Castillo’s family wants answers and justice.

And they are concerned the crash investigation was handled by the agency Gallegos works for — Clovis Police. Romero said the case should be treated the same way it would have been if the at-fault party had been a civilian.

“Laws were broken… (Officers are) supposed to be here to serve and protect us. That’s their duty; they’re here to protect us and he didn’t protect my sister,” she said.

“(Officers are held) at a higher standard because they’re supposed to make sure we uphold the law, why should they be any different?

“Whether it’s today or 30 days, it’s not going to bring my sister back,” said Romero. “My sister didn’t ask for her life to be taken away. I understand (Gallegos) has a family, too, but they need to understand what we’re going through.

“He needs to pay for what he did if that’s what the courts decide… he broke the law. He took advantage of his situation (as an officer).”

The driver of the pickup, 40-year-old Edith Payton of Clovis, has been released from the Lubbock hospital where she was bring treated and is in rehabilitative care for her injuries, Romero said.

Payton was devastated when she learned of Castillo’s death and does not remember the crash, Romero said.

Since the crash, Gallegos is on restricted duty within the police department pending the outcome of the investigation, according to Sanders.