No criminal charges will be pursued against former Clovis officer

Former Clovis police officer Stephen Gallegos has been charged with two traffic violations for his involvement in a 2010 fatal crash, according to his attorney Dan Lindsey.

The crash resulted in the death of passenger Mary Castillo and severe injuries to the driver, Edith Payton.

A criminal indictment against Gallegos was dropped in May after Lindsey charged that 9th Judicial District Attorney Matthew Chandler interfered with grand jury deliberations. District Court Judge Teddy Hartley dismissed the felony charges against Gallegos and Chandler asked a Las Cruces prosecutor to review the case.

Stephen Gallegos

Gallegos pleaded no contest to the new misdemeanor traffic charges on Jan. 25.

"Scot Key, prosecutor in Las Cruces, listened to all recordings, reviewed all of the evidence and agreed with the grand jury that these were misdemeanor traffic tickets," Lindsey said.

Gallegos is scheduled for a sentencing hearing Feb. 7 on one count of careless driving and one count of failure to control speed or use due care.

"That's what he should have been charged with in the first place, that's what the grand jury believed and that's what should happen," Lindsey said. "Mr. Gallegos is terribly upset, this was a terrible accident and he regrets it."

But a member of Castillo's family doesn't feel Gallegos is sincere with his apology, saying she witnessed him laughing in the courtroom last Friday.

"He took my aunt's life and he's living life to the fullest," said Castillo's niece, Jennifer Cruz. "It's pretty sad. We're supposed to be able to count on these cops."

Cruz said her mother, who was Castillo's sister, was suffering from health problems but called Key's office often to see if justice would be served before her death last month.

"My mom wasn't willing to give up," Cruz said. "As sick as she was, she didn't want to give up."

Cruz vows the family will continue their efforts to be heard, even if they have to use other media outlets and television shows.

Cruz said her aunt was the sweetest lady in the world who loved children and always kept toys for them to play with at her home.

The city of Clovis settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of the victims for $1.05 million, with the settlement to be split by the two families, according to a previous Clovis News Journal story.

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