ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The town of Silver City and its police department failed to stop a police captain from stalking his ex-girlfriend despite a number of complaints, and his violent behavior eventually led to her death, according to a lawsuit in federal court.
Authorities say Mark Contreras killed Nikki Bascom than shot and killed himself in 2016.
In the lawsuit, which was moved this week to U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, Bascom’s family alleges that the police department hired Contreras despite his history of violence. After Contreras joined the police force, court documents say the agency did little to stop his physical abuse toward Bascom, 31, and eventually promoted him to captain.
According to court documents, Contreras continued to harass Bascom after the couple broke up and accused her of having an affair with her boss. He also threatened her boss and tried to bait him “into a gunfight,” the lawsuit said.
“On multiple occasions, Contreras threatened to kill Nikki if she ever took their daughter, A.C., away from him, if she ever got a restraining order, or if she ever caused him to lose his job,” the lawsuit said.
After each episode, Bascom contacted Silver City police but Contreras remained on the job.
On the day of Bascom’s death, Contreras armed with his gun came to her home in uniform and in his police vehicle and blocked her from leaving her driveway, the lawsuit said. He then “reached into her car and ‘ripped’ her cell phone from her hand,” court documents said.
The lawsuit said Bascom informed Chief Ed Reynolds of the incident, but police did little to protect her. Bascom fled to a domestic violence center where Contreras allegedly banged on the door of the shelter, the lawsuit said.
Moments before Bascom was killed in April 2016, the lawsuit said, a Grant County sheriff’s sergeant spotted Contreras driving through Bascom’s boss neighborhood but didn’t pull him over.
Authorities say Contreras shot and killed himself moments after he killed Bascom in her friend’s driveway.
The town, its police department, Reynolds and Grant County are named in the lawsuit.
Reynolds and Cody Rogers, an attorney for Silver City, did not immediately return an email from The Associated Press.
Jonlyn Martinez, a lawyer for Grant County, also did not immediately return an email.
The family is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
Joseph Kennedy, an attorney for Bascom’s mother, said Bascom’s two children live with their grandmother out of state.
Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras