Clovis police officer indicted for vehicular homicide

Sharna Johnson

A Curry County grand jury late Friday indicted Clovis police officer Stephen Gallegos on charges of vehicular homicide and great bodily harm by a motor vehicle.

Gallegos faces a maximum sentence of nine years in prison if convicted on both third-degree felony counts, according to a press release from District Attorney Matt Chandler.

Gallegos was released Friday on a $2,000 appearance bond, according to jail officials.

The grand jury found that Gallegos was driving recklessly at the time of the crash, the release said.

Gallegos was placed on paid administrative leave after he was indicted, according to a press release from Clovis police.

Evidence and testimony presented in grand jury proceedings are sealed to the public.

Tita Romero broke into tears on hearing the news Friday night.

“(I feel) relieved. Oh God, we’ve all been waiting for this to see what’s going to happen,” Romero said. “Yeah, we’ll get our justice. It’s not going to bring my sister back, but what he did, it was very uncalled for.

“I feel sorry for his family. I’ll pray for them because I know what it is to lose a loved one.”

Police said Gallegos ran a stop sign and crashed into a pickup truck on Sycamore Street Nov. 17, while heading east on Grand Avenue.

Truck passenger Mary Castillo, 56, was critically injured in the crash and died the next day at a Lubbock hospital.

The driver of the truck, Edith Payton, 40, was also critically injured and has since been released from the hospital.

Police radio records show Gallegos signed out for lunch minutes before the crash.

Court records describing data collected by the airbag in his unit showed Gallegos was traveling at 58 mph some four seconds before the crash, slowed to 53 then reached 56 mph one second before the time of impact. The speed limit along east Grand Avenue is 35 mph.

Gallegos was not seriously injured and was restricted to office duty at the police department since the accident.

Chandler said blood tests indicated no alcohol in Gallegos’ system and telephone records show he was not using his cell phone at the time of the crash.

Chandler and police declined further comment on the case.