Family Attorney: County backs out of wrongful death settlement agreement

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque family says their loved one was an innocent bystander who was killed during a stolen car chase with Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies. The family says the county admitted to their wrongs and were about to pay up when all of a sudden, they backed out.

“Mr. Chavez was driving down the road and unfortunately, was slammed into by somebody that was being chased by the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department,” says Sam Bregman.

Last August, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies spotted a stolen car near Coors and Iliff. When they tried to pull over the Hyundai Sonata, a chase ensued.

According to a grand jury indictment, Jesus Zapata-Beltran was behind the wheel. He led deputies to the intersection of Avenida Cesar Chavez and Broadway, where he hit another driver, killing Robert Chavez.

“He spent a couple of weeks in a coma then passed away,” says Bregman.

Bregman is the attorney for the Chavez’s estate. Shortly after the crash, Bregman filed this wrongful death lawsuit against the county.

Initially, Bregman says the county seemed remorseful for what happened and agreed to settle for $1 million.

“A couple of weeks later, they decide they change their mind. What kind of entity treats someone who’s lost their husband this way?” he says.

Now, Bregman has filed a motion on behalf of the family to ask a judge to enforce the county to pay up. “To make this offer of settlement, my client to agree to the settlement, and then to pull it away? It’s pretty sick,” he says.

KRQE News 13 reached out to the county to ask why they pulled out of their agreement with the Chavez family. A county representative told KRQE News 13 that our request would be looked into, but we never heard back.

Bregman says the family has gone into debt trying to pay medical bills for Chavez. He died 11 days after the crash. They were hoping to use this settlement money to cover those bills.

As for the driver of the stolen car, he’s currently at MDC and has just been indicted on murder charges for this crash.

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