John Robins is accused of beating Crandell Martin earlier this month while booking the inmate at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center. Martin
John Robins is accused of beating Crandell Martin earlier this month while booking the inmate at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center. Martin received three stitches for the cut to his head. (Courtesy of San Juan County Sheriff's Office)

FARMINGTON — A 31-year-old man beaten by an officer at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center in July filed a tort claim notice last week alleging the officer violated his civil rights and caused serious injuries.

Officer John Robins faces felony charges for aggravated battery in connection to the incident.

Surveillance video from the detention center shows Robins slamming Crandell Martin's head into a brick wall while the man was being booked into the detention center on July 2 for a probation violation. In the video, Robins, 31, of Bloomfield, then throws the handcuffed man onto the ground, where he once again hits his head.

"You're going to learn today, bud," Robins is heard telling Martin after the incident.

A second officer, Joshua Erwin, is seen in the video standing by as Robins assaults Martin.

Later in the video, Erwin and Robins are heard discussing a fondness for "the image of blood," which Erwin describes as "cherry red."

"Officer Erwin, who was present during Officer Robins' attack on Mr. Martin, made no attempt to stop the action, nor did he make any attempt to render aid to my client, who was bleeding from the head and clearly injured," Martin's attorney, Arlon Stoker, states in the notice filed on Wednesday.

Stoker further states in a letter sent to San Juan County's risk management division that he is seeking claims on Martin's behalf from the county, the detention center and, potentially, both officers.

Robins was charged July 21 in Aztec Magistrate Court with aggravated battery, a third-degree felony, and is being held on a $10,000 bond, according to court records.

Tom Havel, administrator for the detention center, said Robins resigned after the incident, and Erwin's behavior is under review.

"We go through extensive training, and with our cameras, we review them constantly, and they are reviewed by our administrative staff," Havel said. "When an officer crosses that line and steps away from their moral obligations, they will be held accountable."

John Robins was charged July 21 in Aztec Magistrate Court with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony. He is accused of beating an inmate at the San
John Robins was charged July 21 in Aztec Magistrate Court with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony. He is accused of beating an inmate at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center without provocation. (Courtesy of San Juan Adult Detention Center)

A deputy from the San Juan County Sheriff's Office investigated the incident. He noted in his report that Martin appeared intoxicated in the video, a fact confirmed by Martin himself, according to the report. Martin also acknowledged he was "mouthing off" to Robins, the report states.

Robins initially told the deputy he believed Martin was trying to kick his shoes at another inmate to provoke him. He later told the deputy he was going through a "tough time" and "lost his mind" when the incident occurred, according to the arrest report. He said his wife was leaving him, and he feared he was going to lose his home.

Martin told the deputy he received three stitches for the cut to his head. He said he was having trouble sleeping at night and suffered from headaches.

The deputy noted while Erwin did not engage in any criminal behavior, his actions, including joking throughout the incident, were "unprofessional."

Sheriff's Office Capt. Brice Current said the detention center cooperated fully with the investigation and provided evidence in a timely manner.

Parties seeking redress from government entities are required to send a tort claim notice before filing a lawsuit, according to New Mexico statutes. Stoker said any lawsuit filed in the case would be filed in federal court.

Government entities are required to provide legal defense for employees sued for acting within the scope of their duties, according to statutes. Government agencies can, however, recover the cost for defending a public employee if it is shown the employee acted fraudulently or "with actual intentional malice causing the bodily injury, wrongful death or property damage resulting in the settlement or final judgment."

Deputy County Attorney Doug Echols could not be reached for comment.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and stgarrison@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.