Updated: Tuesday, 16 Aug 2011, 12:53 PM MDT
Published : Monday, 28 Feb 2011, 4:16 PM MST
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - An internal affairs investigation has resumed after a settlement in a lawsuit alleging that an Albuquerque police officer shot his wife and made it look like a suicide, said Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz.
Officer Levi Chavez II called 911 in October 2007 to report his 26-year-old wife, Tera Chavez, had killed herself. She had a gunshot wound to the mouth from her husband's service revolver.
Levi Chavez has not been charged with a crime. He remains on the Albuquerque Police Department payroll but works for animal welfare.
Schultz said the lawsuit and multiple ongoing criminal investigations forced him to put the internal affairs investigation on hold for more than three years.
"We didn't want to taint the other investigations," he said. "But now that the portion of the lawsuit concerning the department is done, we have restarted our internal investigation. A lot of my work has already been done. I can use information from criminal investigations, but it doesn't work the other way around."
The Valencia County Sheriff's Department is continuing its investigation into Tera Chavez's death.
An attorney for Levi Chavez, David Serna, said he remains confident that if his client is charged, "he will be acquitted because he's an innocent man."
Levi Chavez's lawyers also have said the lawsuit is without merit.
The case is set for trial in May before state District Judge Ted Baca.
Under the partial settlement last week, the city of Albuquerque agreed to pay the woman's estate $230,000.
The settlement eliminates negligent hiring and supervision claims from the lawsuit and leaves only Levi Chavez as a defendant.
"We're completely out of the case," said acting City Attorney Kathryn Levy. "Any claims against him now are in his personal capacity, not course and scope of his employment."
The city denied any liability, and the settlement was an economic decision, she said.
Attorney Brad Hall, who represents Tera Chavez's estate, said the family is happy the city settled the negligence claim. The estate's main beneficiaries are the couple's two children.
Information from: Albuquerque Journal