Video sheds light on the night an officer got a ride home and not a DWI.
The video shows deputies telling a State Police officer she was under arrest for drunk driving, but 10 minutes later they gave her a ride home instead.
A 911 call came in just after 7 p.m. on Feb. 26, about a white pickup truck on Highway 82 near Alamogordo.
The investigation led Otero County deputies to a white pickup truck off Highway 82, just six miles from where the initial report came in.
A police report noted the truck’s engine was still warm and it smelled like alcohol inside.
“The vehicle wasn’t running. I called the medical unit because I wasn’t sure what was going on. I pulled up, she was passed out over the steering wheel. I couldn’t tell who it was,” Deputy Chris Swanson said.
Deputy Swanson soon recognized it was Jessica Turner, a current State Police officer and former deputy with his department.
“The next problem being that I hang out with her, like we’re pretty good friends,” he said.
Despite his concerns, supervisors told Deputy Swanson to handle it like any other investigation.
Video shows Turner struggle to walk a line and have trouble keeping her balance during field sobriety tests.
After talking to his supervisors, Deputy Swanson breaks the news to Turner.
“Ms. Turner, you’re being placed under arrest for driving while intoxicated,” Deputy Swanson is heard saying in the dashcam video.
Turner interrupted, telling deputies how they should conduct their investigation.
“Okay, so, first of all, where have you found my keys in my vehicle?” she asked.
“I have not found your keys,” Deputy Swanson responded.
“Okay, first of all, find my keys in my vehicle…” she instructs him.
“Okay,” he said.
Following a discussion among all the deputies on scene, someone is heard saying, “I would have to say, let her go. Give her a ride.”
A police report states Sergeant Steve Odom made that call, arguing there wasn’t probable cause because no one found Turner’s keys.
Although, police reports also mention no one patted down Turner to search for them and deputies aren’t seen in the dash camera video looking for them in the truck.
“In a normal DWI stop, would you search for the keys?” KRQE News 13 asked Otero County Sheriff Benny House.
“Well, if you have a reason to search,” he responded. “You have to have probable cause to search.”
A State Police officer on scene said he thought he saw the keys in the ignition at one point but couldn’t “swear” to it, and Otero County Sergeant Sean Jett believed there was enough for an arrest.
“Did she get special treatment?” KRQE News 13 asked Sheriff House.
“I don’t know,” he said.
That is still being determined as part of an internal affairs investigation that is underway, Sheriff House said.
As instructed, Deputy Swanson gave his friend a ride home, but not before encouraging her to lock her car.
“Do you have a means of locking it? Because I’m sure you have a firearm in there,” Deputy Swanson asked Turner.
She then climbs in the truck and comes out with a backpack in hand, riding away from what deputies earlier described as a “bad situation.”
The sheriff says all his deputies are still on duty during the internal affairs investigation.
Odom, the sergeant who decided to let Turner go, is campaigning to be Otero County’s next sheriff.
Jessica Turner’s boyfriend is Michael Ryan Suggs, a deputy chief with State Police who retired in February when Gov. Susana Martinez appointed him as a judge.
Turner is still on paid leave during an internal affairs investigation and could lose her job over this.
KRQE News 13 called Turner and her attorney for comment, but did not hear back.