November 15, 2016 10:28 PM
It’s difficult to imagine what it must be like without a safe place. For most of us, it’s our home. For others, it may be a close friend, a significant other or perhaps a relative. In fact, American psychologist Abraham Maslow identified the importance of a person’s sense of safety and security when he created the famous hierarchy of human needs.
Nikki Bascom lost her safe place and her sense of security. Nikki was killed on April 21, 2016, by her longtime boyfriend Silver City Police Captain Mark Contreras before he turned his gun on himself.
THE RED FLAGS
Nikki Bascom found herself embracing motherhood at an early age. She juggled two small children and nursing school. According to her mother Karri Dalton, she made it all look so easy.
“Everyone went to Nikki for everything,” Dalton told KOB in an interview conducted in Salt Lake City. “She would take the time to make you feel like you were cared for. Nikki just loved everybody.”
But tension grew Mark and Nikki in the months before their deaths. Mark suspected Nikki was having an affair with a doctor she worked with. As Mark’s suspicions grew, so did his alleged violent behavior.
“A month before Captain Contreras killed Nikki, he threatened suicide and he beat her up,” said Laura Schauer Ives, an Albuquerque attorney representing Karri Dalton in a lawsuit against Silver City and Grant County.
Police reports taken after their deaths documented the couple’s sordid history. One officer wrote, “Nikki looked beat up.” Another officer referred to the domestic violence as “an ongoing issue.”
The police reports revealed the day Mark killed Nikki, he took away her cell phone. Also that day, Mark Contreras stalked and pulled over the man who he suspected Nikki was having an affair with. When Contreras approached the man’s vehicle, he was in his police uniform and carrying his service weapon. Reports indicate that Contreras made threats toward the man’s life.
According to Schauer Ives and police reports, Nikki went to Contreras’s boss Silver City Police Chief Ed Reynolds to report Contreras’s behavior and to ask for help. Reports indicate he referred her to a shelter for battered women, but Nikki didn’t feel comfortable going there because she knew that as a police officer, Contreras knew the shelter’s location.
Reynolds did place Contreras on administrative leave and took away his gun and badge, but did not arrest him or take any additional steps to protect Nikki.
According to reports, a friend of Nikki’s went to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office seeking help on Nikki’s behalf. A deputy did meet with Contreras but indicated he would rather enjoy “a cold one.”
“Well, dude, I hate to be here,” said Sgt. Frank Gomez, as his voice was captured on lapel video. “I’d rather be drinking a cold one or something.”
“It sucks, but it happens, I guess. It is what it is,” replied Contreras.
“Alright, I’m just going to talk to her and see what she wants, ok?” Gomez said.
“She’s going to want me to leave, but I don’t have to leave,” Contreras said.
“Yeah, exactly,” agreed Gomez.
Later that day, Reynolds escorted Contreras to his home to retrieve his gun. While Contreras was in the home, the lawsuit indicated that he not only retrieved his service weapon but several other firearms, including the one he would kill Nikki and himself with hours later.
“It's unthinkable that [Reynolds] helped him get guns that day,” Schauer Ives said.
On April 21, 2016, Nikki was at a friend’s house in Silver City with her children when Contreras pulled up in his truck. A neighbor told police that he saw Nikki yelling at him, pleading for him to go away while in the driveway of the home.
Soon after, Contreras pulled a gun out of his pocket and fired at Nikki, striking her in the head. He then turned the gun on himself. A neighbor trying performing life resuscitation efforts on Nikki, but it was too late. They both died on the driveway.
Moments later, Silver City Police Department officers and Grant County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived. Sgt. Michael Yost is caught on his lapel video expressing immediate regret for not taking more actions.
“I should have f***ing pulled him over when I had the chance,” Yost is heard telling other law enforcement officers. “If I had pulled him over, she would be alive right now. I should have f***ing done it.”
Other officers tried reassuring Yost. One even suggested if Yost had intervened, Contreras may have gotten into a shootout with him.
“So what? She would still be alive,” Yost is heard saying.
THE NEXT CHAPTER
Karri Dalton, Nikki’s mother, is suing the Silver City Police Department and Grant County Sheriff’s Office. She believes the departments spent more time and used more effort in protecting Captain Contreras than protecting a victim of domestic violence.
Dalton believes had Contreras not been a member of the law enforcement community, police officers would have listened to Nikki’s cries for help.
“If Nikki was going and asking for help, then she needed help,” Dalton said. “To go to these people and be afraid and be scared and to ask for help; that tells me she really needed help.”
Dalton now has full custody of Nikki’s two young children and moved them to Utah.
“Nikki was not just one woman up against one man,” Schauer Ives said. “She was one woman up against an entire police department.”
Updated: November 15, 2016 10:28 PM
Created: November 15, 2016 03:45 PM
Copyright 2016 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved