City of Clovis settles in officer-involved fatal crash

Freedom New Mexico

The city of Clovis has agreed to settle a more than $1 million lawsuit involving a fatal vehicle accident involving one of its police officers.

Mary Castillo was killed in the Nov. 10, 2010, accident involving former Clovis police officer Stephen Gallegos. Castillo was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Edith Payton, who was injured.

According to documents filed in district court, Castillo’s family is still working on an agreement over how to split the payment with Payton.

Investigators said Gallegos, who is awaiting a trial on a vehicular homicide charge, was driving 56 mph in a posted 35 mph zone when he ran a stop sign at Sycamore and Grand streets.

Gallegos was dismissed from the police force after charges were filed.

Attempts to contact Gallegos’ attorney, Dan Lindsey, were unsuccessful.

City Purchasing Agent David Boswell, who handles insurance matters for the city, said Payton and Castillo’s family would split $750,000 — the city’s maximum tort — minus a payment of $1,621 for damages to the vehicle Payton was driving.

The full amount of $1.05 million — paid by One Beacon after a $25,000 deductible from the city — includes lawyer’s fees, Boswell said.

Boswell said the city hasn’t made an official agreement, but is negotiating under the premise the city admits enough fault to pay the maximum tort amount without wasting time in a court case.