Crime

Sheriff speaks out on controverisal DWI stop involving NMSP officer

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (KRQE) - A New Mexico sheriff is now speaking out, saying he is investigating whether his deputies "botched" a controversial DWI stop.

The driver in question is a former deputy of that sheriff's department and current NMSP officer. That night, she got a ride home instead of a ride to jail.

We asked Otero County Sheriff Benny house if Jessica Turner was given special treatment. Sheriff House said he does not know.

Sheriff House said he has known Jessica Turner for nearly a decade, having worked alongside her.

"She did a lot of community work. She was very involved with community policing," House said. 

Last week, the now-State Police officer was found slouched over behind the wheel of a parked truck near Alamogordo.

According to a report, deputies were on the lookout for a suspected drunk driver in a similar truck.

"She's an extremely good person and if it turns out that she was, indeed, intoxicated behind the wheel, if that is what the results of the investigation find, it's going to sadden me because that is truly out of her character," House said. 

Despite the truck's warm engine, the smell of alcohol and Turner failing field sobriety tests, deputies and an NMSP officer on scene chose to drive her home.

We know dash cam video of the incident exists.

"I think there was some documentation by the State Police at the scene that is going to be very enlightening. I think that is going to tell us how our guys handled the situation, if they did it appropriately or if it was botched completely," House said. 

The sheriff said his deputies cited DWI case law regarding the presence of vehicle keys as the reason for their actions. The report said keys "were ever located."

"Well, that's what we're looking for. That's the information we're looking for. That's one of the things the Sheriff's Office is trying to determine," House said. 

Sheriff House said the four deputies who responded will be submitting their reports of what happened in the coming days. All of them are still on duty. 

Sheriff House said he plans to hand over all of the evidence to the district attorney's office for review.

Turner is on paid leave from state police and under internal investigation.


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