An Albuquerque cop was indicted on two felony charges Tuesday, including one for kneeing a man in the groin, causing him to lose a testicle, the other for deleting footage from the phone of the man’s friend who had recorded the incident.
Pablo Padilla, who has been on paid administrative leave since last year, is the third Albuquerque cop to be indicted this year. He was charged with aggravated battery with great bodily harm and tampering with evidence.
The first two cops were Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy, charged with murder in the death of James Boyd, a homeless man who had been camping in the foothills at the edge of the city.
Prior to Boyd’s death, Sandy was recorded on a dash cam calling him a “fucking lunatic” and vowing to “shoot him in the penis with a shotgun.”
Prior to kneeing Jeremy Martin in the groin, Padilla had pulled him over for running a stop sign and had been investigating him for DWI, ordering him to sit on the sidewalk.
Martin, a 24-year-old law student, insisted on standing, which infuriated Padilla to the point where he had to knee him in the groin. Martin, who ended up with several cuts and bruises to his face, had to be rushed to a hospital for emergency surgery where his testicle was removed.
Padilla’s attorney said that Martin has only himself to blame because he escalated the situation by refusing to sit down as she believes when a cop tells us to jump, we’re supposed to ask, “how high?”.
Erinda Johnson also said her client used “poor judgement” by deleting the footage from Martin’s friend’s phone, but it was not a destruction of evidence because he happened to be recording on his lapel camera.
Padilla’s attorney, Erlinda Johnson, said Martin escalated the situation by refusing to sit down. She said Padilla was doing what he was trained to do.
“Basically, you’re supposed to aim for a major leg muscle so the individual doesn’t resist,” she said. “Unfortunately, he missed, and he ended up striking Mr. Martin in the groin area.”
Johnson said Padilla exercised “poor judgement” by deleting video of the incident from Martin’s passenger’s cellphone, but says it wasn’t tampering with evidence. “You wouldn’t have a lapel camera video in that case,” she said.
In other words, Johnson is under the impression that just because Padilla didn’t delete all the video evidence against him, he had tampered with no evidence.
However, a judge last year threw out the charges against Martin because he had “intentionally and in bad faith destroyed evidence.”
Perhaps Padilla was unable to delete the footage from his camera or probably figured it would never see the light of day, but his lapel camera turned out to be the biggest piece of evidence against him that led to the two felony charges he is now facing.
In fact, the video from his lapel camera is so blatant it’s a wonder it took almost a year for him to be charged.
And he may never have been charged if it weren’t for the fact that Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg had a falling out with the Albuquerque Police Department after police forwarded an investigation against her to the state’s attorney general regarding her often-arrested, drug addicted son, as KRQE explains below.
Shortly after Brandenburg filed those charges, APD moved to ban the district attorney’s office from police shooting investigations, despite the fact that the two agencies had signed on to a memorandum of agreement that laid out how such investigations were to be conducted.
In addition, the department’s own standard operating procedures reference the district attorney’s involvement in shooting investigations — and sets out penalties for officers who violate that procedure. APD refused to comment on the matter to KRQE News 13.
The decision to charge officers in the Boyd case came after APD announced it had forwarded to the state Attorney General an investigation into Brandenburg’s handling of burglary cases involving her son. Investigators say Brandenburg contacted victims and offered to pay for stolen items, possibly with the hope of tamping down their willingness to press charges.
The district attorney maintains that investigation was forwarded to state prosecutors only after she’d informed people at APD that she would likely file charges in the Boyd shooting.
In his arrest report, Padilla made no mention of the physical altercation or the fact he snatched a man’s cell phone to delete his footage, but he did state that Martin miraculously ended up with lacerations to the face after he was handcuffed.
Padilla ended up serving a six-week suspension for the incident, then was transferred to desk duty. His law enforcement certification was revoked by the state in December, but he is appealing that decision, so he is still a certified police officer, collecting a paycheck while he remains on paid administrative leave.
Taxpayers will likely also dish out more money to Martin considering he filed a lawsuit against the city last year.
Meanwhile, the Albuquerque Police Department has refused KRQE’s request to view Padilla’s previous disciplinary record.