Omaree's stepfather has possible connection with APD

Posted at: 02/06/2014 6:13 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

One thing that emerges from police records in the child abuse investigation of Omaree Varela is an unexpected possible connection between the boy's stepfather and the Albuquerque Police Department. It came up during a police visit to the Varela-Casaus home in June.

The lapel camera video tells a very brief but disturbing story of the police response after 911 got a call from the home last June. The 911 dispatcher alerts officers to the violent nature of the call, urging them to listen to a recording. The officers arrive, and in the first minute, explain why they're there and ask if kids are in the home.

"You kids alright?" an officer asks.
"Oh, my baby was playing with the phone," Synthia Varela-Casaus responds.

Eight minutes after officers arrive, they focus on the stepfather, Steve Casaus. One officer says he looks familiar.

"Maybe you know his cousin, Adam Casaus," Varela-Casaus said. "That's where you know him from."

"Oh really?" an officer asks.

"Yeah, that's my first cousin," Steve Casaus says.

Later, an officer types back a message to Casaus, saying "the guy is the 34's (officer's) brother that just got let go. Casaus."

Officer Adam Casaus had indeed just been fired by APD. He was charged with vehicular homicide for speeding in his police SUV through a red light, killing 21-year-old Ashley Browder.

When asked about the supposed connection, APD would only say "no familial relationship has been confirmed."

The officers don't ask Steve Casaus any follow-up questions. They do tell both parents to be careful of what they say and how it might be perceived by others. Less than twelve minutes after knocking on the door, they leave, reporting back "all safe."