Albuquerque drops DWI charges after cop shatters student's testicle during traffic stop
In April, Albuquerque Police Officer Pablo Padilla pulled over a car operated by University of New Mexico student Jeremy Martin for driving while intoxicated. Martin, 25, pleaded with Padilla to let him go, disobeying the police officer’s instruction for him to sit on the curb.
Padilla then lost his temper, kicking Martin in the groin.
“Stop using aggressive force,” Martin said, according to evidence cited by KCQE. “Don’t kick me in the nuts. Ah, you motherfucker!”
“Get on the ground,” Padilla then said.
“Don’t kick me in the… Ah, you fucker!” Martin replied, in pain.
Martin was then handcuffed and eventually had to go to a nearby hospital to remove his shattered testicle.
After cuffing Martin, Padilla addressed one of Martin’s passengers who was recording the violent encounter on a cell phone.
“Please put your phone away,” Padilla said.
“Am I not permitted by law to…” the passenger began before Padilla interrupted.
“I said put your phone away. Do you understand that?” the officer said before taking the phone. His own body camera recorded him deleting the video from the phone.
It was that destruction of evidence that led to Martin’s DWI dismissal. The state judge in the case granted a motion to suppress Padilla’s testimony because he “intentionally and in bad faith destroyed evidence.”
With no testimony from the arresting officer, the case could not continue and was dropped.
The Albuquerque Police Department suspended Padilla for six weeks without pay for the use of excessive force but did not punish him for the destruction of evidence, according to Martin’s attorney, Sam Bregman.
Bergman said he is suing the city and the police department over the incident, adding that he thinks Padilla should be tried on criminal charges.
The department refused to discuss the incident with KRQE, but did say that Albuquerque police officers are subject to being recorded and often need a search warrant to browse the contents of someone’s phone.
Filming on-duty police officers is legal in all 50 states as long as the filming does not physically interfere with officers’ ability to work. A federal appeals court recently affirmed this First Amendment right, as RT reported.
In June, despite the wishes of the Obama administration and prosecutors across the country, the US Supreme Court ruled that police officers must have a warrant before searching the cell phone contents of an individual under arrest.
Just last month, the Albuquerque Police Department reached a deal with the US Department of Justice to overhaul many of its practices. The reforms came amid protests over the department’s history of excessive force, including the fatal shooting of nearly 30 people since 2010.