ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — A former Allegan County Sheriff’s Office deputy has been acquitted of two misdemeanor charges connected to a crash that killed a woman and injured her husband last year.

More than a dozen witnesses testified during Thomas Goggins’ three-day trial. The case went to the jury on Thursday and members deliberated less than an hour before returning not guilty verdicts on charges of moving violation causing death and moving violation causing serious impairment.

Defense attorney Michael D. Hills said his client feels vindicated and contends charges never should have been filed.

“An independent investigation by Michigan State Police cleared my client, and he was still prosecuted,” Hills said. “A tragic accident happened, and you prosecute him for doing his job?”

A memorial to Ofelia Nunez. (Courtesy family)
A memorial to Ofelia Nunez. (Courtesy family)

Goggins had just started with the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department when the crash happened on the evening of June 12, 2022, at M-89 and 54th Street in Manlius Township, near Fennville. Authorities say Goggins’ westbound cruiser hit a southbound GMC Acadia. The passenger in the Acadia, 74-year-old Ofelia Nunez of Fennville, was killed. The driver, her husband Jose Nunez, was hospitalized.

State police called to investigate the crash said Goggins was driving around 90 mph without lights and sirens activated. His attorney told News 8 Goggins was following departmental training — in fact, there was a training officer in the cruiser with him.

Goggins and the training officer said they were trying to catch a speeding minivan. But the state police report on the crash shows a detective sergeant questioned Goggins about a pizza order the deputies were scheduled to pick up within minutes of the crash.

Goggins resigned from the sheriff’s office after the crash.

“He feels abandoned,” Hills told News 8 Thursday. “How can you feel supported when you are being prosecuted for doing your job? Who’s going to want that job?”

Deputy Thomas Goggins is sworn in in May 2022. (Allegan County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)
Deputy Thomas Goggins is sworn in in May 2022. (Allegan County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook)

A message left with the Allegan County Prosecutor’s Office Thursday afternoon seeking comment was not immediately returned.

The Nunez family has sued Goggins, as well as the sheriff’s department, township and county governments, in connection to the death, claiming he was driving recklessly.

—Target 8 investigator Susan Samples contributed to this report.