New Mexico firefighter threatens to sue over DWI arrest

KRQE Investigates

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico firefighter arrested for DWI is now threatening to sue the Sheriff’s Office over the situation. He claims his rights were violated. But, did he cross the line once the cuffs came off?


KRQE Investigates


KRQE News 13 obtained video footage showing what the fight is about. “I hope your lapel camera’s f*** rolling, mother f*** all you guys! I ain’t worried about it,” Tyler Bass shouted from an Otero County Sheriff’s Office holding cell after his DWI arrest in December 2020. Bass is an Alamogordo firefighter.

“What’s up n****. I did this s*** boy!” Bass is heard shouting at Otero County Deputy Carlos De La Cruz, who had just arrested him for DWI. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know, mother f***,” Bass added.

Footage from two Otero County Sheriff’s deputies obtained by KRQE News 13 shows what led up to those moments in the holding cell, and what led to Bass’ arrest. Dash camera video from Deputy Carlos De La Cruz shows the deputy pulling over a truck and trailer around 3:30 a.m. in December. Bass, 27, was behind the wheel of the pickup.

“I observed the aforementioned vehicle swerve into the inside southbound lane and readjust into the original lane of travel,” the deputy wrote in his report. “NOTE: the flatbed trailer did not have functioning brake lamps and/or safety lamps.”

“How you doing, bud?” Deputy De La Cruz said at the beginning of the traffic stop. “Good, and yourself?” Bass replied.

“Good, good, Deputy De La Cruz, Otero County Sheriff’s Office. The reason I pulled you over is that your trailer doesn’t have any lamps on it,” said the deputy.

“It doesn’t? I have the lights on,” Bass replied, and opened the driver-side door to try and step out. “Have a seat,” Deputy De La Cruz instructs him.

Bass asked to check his trailer’s brake lights, but the deputy wanted to know if he’d been drinking.”You been drinking tonight, man?” Deputy De La Cruz asked. “No, I have not,” said Bass. “If you look right now, it’s connected to the truck, it should be connected.”

The deputy checked Bass’ ID and plates. Lapel camera footage shows De La Cruz tell another deputy on scene, “I can’t tell if he’s been drinking or not, dude.”

The second deputy on scene chatted briefly with Bass’ passenger. “We were driving around the Polaris,” Bass’ passenger said.

“Let me ask you a question,” De La Cruz told Bass. “Do I have the opportunity to check my trailer and make sure?” Bass replied. “You can get the opportunity when I’m done speaking,” said the deputy. “Matter of fact, step out for me real quick,” De La Cruz added.

At that point, the deputy told Bass he noticed him swerving, and informed him he was going to administer a field sobriety test. “We’re about to conduct some field sobriety tests, Mr. Bass,” said the deputy. “The reason I am is because you swerved on the middle of the highway near mile marker 73. Then you slammed on your brakes, then you turned on Dog Ranch.”

“So the reason why you pulled me over,” Bass pointed to his trailer’s brake lights. “And I also pulled you over because of your tail lamps, yes sir,” said the deputy.

“Go ahead and stand right here with your feet together, hands to your side,” De La Cruz instructed. “How much did you have to drink tonight?”

“I haven’t not had none,” Bass replied. “You haven’t what?” De La Cruz asked. “I haven’t had not none,” Bass said.

The sobriety test began, and that’s when Bass claimed to know the deputy. “Do you want your other officer over here?” Bass said. “Obviously, because we have a…”

Bass turned to the other deputy on scene, “So real quick, he used to f** my lady, so we have an altercation, so I would appreciate it if you would…” Bass said. “Mr. Bass,” De La Cruz said.

“Watch my eyes and everything,” Bass asked the other deputy. He asked the other deputy to observe the field sobriety test as Bass and De La Cruz lost patience with each other.

At one point, De La Cruz was explaining a field sobriety test, and appeared frustrated when Bass tried to begin the test before he was instructed to do so.

“You’re gonna take a series of nine steps, heel to toe,” De La Cruz instructed. “One -” Bass began. “Not yet, I didn’t tell you to start,” said De La Cruz.

Bass started complaining about the cold weather and said the tests were taking a long time. That’s when things took a turn.

“Demonstrate on this line for me because it’s f**** I’m shivering too,” said Bass. “Go ahead and turn around for me,” said De La Cruz.

At that point, De La Cruz placed Bass under arrest for DWI, before completing the field sobriety tests. “Let me do the test,” Bass said. De La Cruz informed Bass he was under arrest for DWI and was not complying with instructions. “How much did you have to drink tonight man? You reek of alcohol,” De La Cruz told Bass.

The deputy asked Bass’ passenger if Bass had been drinking that night. The passenger replied, “I know he had one for sure.”

Deputy De La Cruz asked if Bass would take a breathalyzer test. “Ok, ok, I do not agree. Go ahead and shut the door and I’ll have a right to the attorney,” said Bass.

KRQE News 13 called the Otero County Sheriff’s Office and asked if Deputy De La Cruz did indeed know Bass. News 13 was told a preliminary inquiry showed the deputy did not know Bass previously, and the Sheriff’s Office wouldn’t comment further due to pending litigation.

In February, the District Attorney’s Office dismissed Bass’ DWI case, “In the best interest of justice.” Bass is now threatening to sue over the arrest.

The district attorney’s office told News 13 Bass’ case was dismissed due to a lack of evidence. Without a completed field sobriety test or results from a breathalyzer, prosecutors said the office didn’t have much of a case to pursue charges.

Bass’ attorney filed a tort claim with Otero County, claiming there was no probable cause for his stop or arrest.

Bass joined the Alamogordo Fire Department in May 2018. According to his employee file, it doesn’t appear Bass was disciplined for the latest arrest. The Alamogordo Fire Department referred inquires from KRQE to their city attorney, who said they won’t comment on personnel matters.

Bass declined to comment for this report. His attorney, Cammie Nichols, told News 13 Bass wants all this behind him. She sent the following written statement:

“Tyler Bass and Carlos de la Cruz absolutely knew one another, because de la Cruz had been in a relationship with Tyler’s fiancée, a relationship de la Cruz was trying to rekindle. For this reason, Tyler did not trust de la Cruz or his motives for the stop.”

Cammie Nichols, Tyler Bass’ Attorney

Bass is still employed with the City of Alamogordo. De La Cruz is still an Otero County deputy.

Read Full Tort Claim

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