Chief of staff for Sen. Jose Menendez faces DWI charge

Tomas Larralde, 52, charged with DWI on March 27 after SAPD officer found him asleep in running vehicle, records show

Thomas Larralde (BCSO/KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – The chief of staff for Texas State Senator Jose Menendez was arrested in San Antonio on suspicion of driving while intoxicated late last month, records obtained Wednesday by the KSAT 12 Defenders confirm.

Tomas Larralde, 52, was found asleep behind the wheel of a vehicle in the 200 block of N. Loop 1604 East on March 27 around 2:50 a.m., according to a warrant to draw a sample of his blood.

The vehicle was still running and the headlights were on in the parking lot of a closed establishment, the warrant states.

Larralde, whose first name is spelled as both Tomas and Thomas in various public records, had to be woken up by the arresting officer.

“I noticed his eyes were bloodshot, watery, and his face was flush,” wrote the officer, who also added that Larralde had “a strong odor of suspected alcoholic beverage emitting from his breath.”

The officer wrote that Larralde showed six out of six clues of possible impairment during a horizontal gaze test.

When asked to indicate on a scale of 1 to 10 how intoxicated he felt, Larralde told the officer 5, according to the warrant.

Larralde was then placed under arrest for DWI.

Reached for comment Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Menendez told the Defenders via text message:

“My office has and will continue to advocate against Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). Our justice system provides every individual the right to due process in a court of law. We are aware of these allegations and are awaiting the completion of the investigation, before making final internal determinations.”

Larralde is free on $800 bond and is scheduled to make a virtual court appearance on April 27, court officials confirmed Wednesday.

Larralde is paid a salary of $110,000 a year, according to the Texas Tribune’s government salary database.

Records show a specimen of Larralde’s blood was drawn after he refused to provide a breath specimen.

About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.