Family continues to seek prosecution for Clovis officer

Jennifer Cruz said it's been nearly two years since her aunt Mary Castillo was killed in a crash involving a Clovis police officer and her family is still seeking justice.

She's hoping former Clovis police officer Stephen Gallegos will get his day in court now that 3rd Judicial District Chief Deputy District Attorney Scot Key from Las Cruces has taken the case for review.

A criminal indictment against Gallegos was dropped in May after Gallegos' attorney Dan Lindsey successfully argued 9th Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler interfered with grand jury deliberations.

Lindsey declined to comment on the latest change in the case.

"Maybe we'll get the proper justice we deserve," Cruz said about the change. "Our family is still grieving; she was very loved by her family. I think (Gallegos) does need to be punished."

Gallegos was indicted in January 2011 on charges of vehicular homicide and causing great bodily injury in a November 2010 crash. Investigators said Gallegos ran a stop sign in his police cruiser and crashed into a vehicle driven by Edith Payton of Clovis.

Castillo was a passenger in Payton's pickup and was headed home after a day at work as a waitress at a Clovis restaurant.

"It was horrible for us because it was right before Thanksgiving…she didn't have to die the way she died for his carelessness," said Cruz.

Key said he was asked to review the case by Chandler.

"My goal is to review everything within 45 days," Key said.

"I know nothing about the case," Key said. "We're going to read every document. In the abundance of caution and to not have people jump to conclusions, (Chandler) wanted a fresh pair of eyes to look at it. It's not uncommon."

Key said there is no guarantee Gallegos' case will go to trial, but that is all Cruz and her family hope for.

"I think he does need to be prosecuted," Cruz said. "He was the law; he was supposed to be here to protect and serve. He was breaking the law. We want him to do time and pay for what he did."

Cruz said she and her family are tired of the case moving around. Prior to this new change in venue, the 10th Judicial District was handling the case.

"Mary's not alive, she's dead while he's walking free and happy," Cruz said. "She was on her way home from work, she was an innocent bystander. There was no reason for him to be going fast."

Cruz said she and her family will be awaiting Key's decision through the pain as they approach the two-year anniversary of her aunt's death.

"We're just hurt because just looking at all the evidence, it points to him being guilty," she said. "It's horrible, it's sad."

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