Albuquerque, NM- Albuquerque officer Pablo Padilla faces felony charges of aggravated battery and evidence tampering stemming from an April 2014 traffic stop that led to emergency surgery for a University of New Mexico law student.
On April 25th, 2014, Padilla pulled over Jeremy Martin for failing to stop at a stop sign. KOB noted that the police report “says he [Martin] blew a stop sign while traveling north on Wellesley Place, but there is no way to travel northbound on Wellseley to the stop sign in question.”
Martin was uncooperative with Padilla’s order to remain seated on a curb outside of his vehicle. The original police report stated that Martin was actively resisting arrest and was later treated for face and leg lacerations. The initial report did not include any information regarding the physical altercation between Padilla and Martin that ultimately led to Martin being rushed into emergency surgery to remove a testicle that had been badly damaged by Padilla’s knee. Video capturing the incident, provided by ProgressNow New Mexico, can be seen below.
At about 7 minutes and 15 seconds into the video, Padilla is seen ordering one of Martin’s passengers to put away his cell phone that was recording the incident. Padilla is then seen seizing the passenger’s phone. At about 9 minutes into the video, Padilla can be seen deleting video from a phone.
Padilla’s decision to delete the video recording led to Martin’s DWI charge being dismissed. Padilla’s testimony in the DWI case was suppressed by a judge because the officer “intentionally and in bad faith destroyed evidence.” Padilla’s lawyer maintained that while deleting the citizen’s video was “poor judgement,” the act was not tampering with evidence.
Martin later filed a lawsuit against APD for the injury sustained during the traffic stop. Padilla was suspended for six weeks after the incident and is still employed by the APD on administrative leave. Padilla’s certification was revoked by the The New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board last December, but Padilla requested a formal hearing that initiated an appeals process that leaves Padilla’s certification in place until a final decision is made by the hearing officer or a state District Court judge.
On Wednesday, Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry released the city’s new proposed budget that included spending $4.7 million “to implement and go beyond the U.S. Department of Justice Settlement Agreement. Areas of focus include recruitment, crisis intervention, misconduct complaint investigations, training, development of policies and procedures, and community engagement and oversight.” A settlement agreement was reached between the Justice Department and APD last fall after a Justice Department investigation found that the APD has routinely engaged in excessive and deadly force against citizens.