FARMINGTON — A 75-year-old man has filed a lawsuit against San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen and one of his deputies after the man was shot with a stun gun in September 2011.
Attorneys Christian Hatfield and Shannon Pettus filed the lawsuit in Aztec District Court on behalf of Joe Martinez, who lives near Aztec. The suit was filed in late August, nearly two years after the incident.
Former Deputy Kevin Bell shot Joe Martinez with a stun gun after the man drove up to a standoff between deputies and his son, Martin Martinez. Martin Martinez had fled from a deputy in an off-highway vehicle, entered his home and told deputies he was going to get a gun and shoot them, according to police reports from the incident.
Deputies had the house surrounded when Joe Martinez drove onto the scene, which was captured by the dashboard camera on a deputy's patrol car. The footage shows Joe Martinez pulling up to the house and getting out of his vehicle. Within 12 seconds of exiting his car, he is shot with a stun gun.
"Mr. Martinez has suffered physical and psychological injuries and received treatment as a result of being attacked by" the San Juan County Sheriff's Office, the suit states. A photograph of Joe Martinez at the hospital after the incident shows he has a wound from the stun gun in the upper portion of his chest.
Joe Martinez could not be reached for comment.
Sheriff's office Capt. Brice Current said the incident was reviewed internally, and officials determined that the deputy's actions were within office policy.
"Not only was the force appropriate," Current said. "The situation could have been worse."
After Joe Martinez was hit with a stun gun, he was arrested on suspicion of resisting and obstructing an officer and was taken to jail. By the time he arrived there, jail staff said he wasn't fit to be incarcerated, and he was taken to San Juan Regional Medical Center, according to police reports.
The lawsuit states that Joe Martinez couldn't walk. The police reports say he had elevated blood pressure and said he was dizzy.
Joe Martinez was later acquitted of the misdemeanor charges.
Current said every time a deputy has a "use of force" incident, the circumstances are reviewed with the same system.
The deputy writes a report on the incident and the deputy's sergeant, lieutenant and the captain review the situation independently of each other and complete a report. Then, Current, the captain who overseas internal affairs and Undersheriff Ron Anderson review those three supervisors' reports and make their own determinations, Current said.
Even though Joe Martinez wasn't convicted of resisting an officer, that doesn't mean it was a poor decision to arrest him, Current said.
"It's to arrest them and get them off the scene," he said. "When we feel that we are arresting somebody and when citizens are trying to stop us from doing what we do, they just need to listen."
Martin Martinez was convicted in May 2012 of shooting at deputies on his property, and he is currently serving a prison sentence.
A group of suspects involved in the homicide of Anthony Jacquez in May 2012 took the car that Jacquez was killed in to the Martinez home. Martin Martinez was convicted of shooting at deputies who were investigating the homicide. He and his daughter, Sarah Martinez, are serving prison sentences for several charges, including tampering in connection to that incident.
Gabriel Alcon, 23, was sentenced to 10 years in prison as part of a plea agreement for the murder of Jacquez.