Man claims assault at San Juan County Adult Detention Center violated civil rights

Steve Garrison
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Crandell Martin, the alleged victim of an assault by a San Juan County Adult Detention Center officer, has filed a federal lawsuit against several current and former detention center employees claiming that his civil rights were violated.

Martin, 31, claims in his lawsuit that correctional officer John Robins assaulted him while he was being booked into the detention center on July 2. Martin's lawsuit says his rights to due process and equal protection under the law were violated and he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

Robins, also 31, was charged in Aztec Magistrate Court on July 21 with felony aggravated battery in connection to the incident. Robins was expected to appear at a preliminary examination on Thursday, but the court date was rescheduled for Sept. 18.

Martin's lawsuit further alleges another correctional officer, Joshua Erwin, witnessed the assault and failed to stop Robins from using excessive force. The San Juan County Adult Detention Center and its administrator, Tom Havel, are also named as defendants in the suit.

Havel could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Martin claims in his lawsuit that he was permanently disfigured as a result of the alleged assault. He requests unspecified compensation.

The San Juan County Sheriff's Office investigated the July 2 incident. A surveillance video released by the department shows Robins slamming Martin's head into a brick wall while the man was being booked into the detention center.

In the video, Martin faces the wall while he is handcuffed. Robins inspects Martin's body for foreign objects, and after Martin fails to lift the right foot for inspection, Robins pushes his head into the wall. Robins is then seen lifting up Martin's foot, causing the man to fall to the ground.

Robins initially told a deputy investigating the incident that 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.

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

Erwin has not been charged in relation to the incident. The deputy who investigated the incident noted in the arrest report that Erwin's behavior was "unprofessional."

Attorney Arlon Stoker sent a tort claim to San Juan County earlier this month indicating his intention to pursue legal action on Martin's behalf.

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