NMSP investigating possible preferential treatment of state senator at DWI stop

New Mexico

ESPANOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – A State Police officer is under investigation for allegedly attempting to give a state senator preferential treatment during a drunk driving stop.

Officer Pepper: “Do you have something you guys can cover that plate up with?”

That was New Mexico State Police Officer Lance Pepper trying to convince fellow officers to cover up State Sen. Richard Martinez’s license plate.

Officer Pepper: “It says, ‘Senator No. 5.'”

Sen. Martinez had just crashed his car into a Jeep.

Officer #2: “He was traveling way too fast and not wearing a seat belt.”

He was being arrested on suspicion of DWI after failing a field sobriety test.

Martinez: “Jesus Christ, are you really doing this?”

Officer: “You know we both have jobs to do, Richard. You know it’s one of those things, okay?”

Officers ultimately decided not to cover up his license plate.

KRQE News 13 reached out to NMSP for comment regarding the preferential treatment that Officer Pepper appears to be giving Martinez. Officials refused an on-camera interview, but in a statement, NMSP spokesman Ray Wilson says, ‘New Mexico State Police does not have a policy that provides preferential treatment to an elected official or anyone else being charged with a crime.” Wilson goes on to say the statement never should have been made.

Martinez was arrested and charged with aggravated DWI. He was released on his own recognizance on Tuesday.

New Mexico State Police are conducting an internal investigation into the remarks made during the arrest. Officer Pepper is currently still on patrol. Martinez is awaiting trial on the DWI charge.

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