Former New Mexico deputy accused of handcuffing, sexually assaulting woman

A former New Mexico sheriff’s deputy has been charged with handcuffing a woman and sexually assaulting her in his patrol vehicle, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Michael Andrew Martinez, a former Doña Ana County sheriff’s deputy, is charged with deprivation of rights under color of law and obstruction of justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Mexico said in a statement.

The assault on April 30 was captured on a video recording device in his police vehicle, which Martinez tried unsuccessfully to destroy, according to an FBI affidavit filed with a criminal complaint.

Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department in Las Cruces, NM. (Google Maps)
Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department in Las Cruces, NM. (Google Maps)

Martinez, 33, had claimed on May 2 that someone broke into his patrol vehicle and damaged the WatchGuard DVR system, according to the complaint — but the video remained and was found by Motorola and then investigators.

The video allegedly shows Martinez groping a woman who is handcuffed in the caged area in the vehicle, the FBI agent wrote in the affidavit.

Martinez had filed a report saying he responded to a traffic crash in Las Cruces in which a vehicle struck a tree on April 30 and detained the registered owner, according to the document.

A federal public defender listed as representing Martinez did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Thursday afternoon.

Online court records do not indicate a plea. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Sheriff Kim Stewart on Friday called it a violation of the public trust and apologized to the victim.

Martinez was hired from the village of Hatch in November and was with another officer during training until January, she said. After the video was discovered, he was fired, she said.

Investigators have also reviewed 300 hours of body camera footage, 29 arrests and 250 citations and contacted people who encountered Martinez but were also let off with a warning.

“We’re fairly confident that if there are additional victims from Mr. Martinez’ activities, they haven’t yet come forward,” Stewart said.

Martinez used to work for the New Mexico State Police and the Hatch Police Department, the U.S. attorney's office said, and anyone else who may have been victimized is being asked to call the FBI.

Martinez was with state police from March 24, 2018, until May 15, 2020, a spokesperson for the agency said.

Martinez worked for Hatch from Aug. 2, 2021, to Nov. 7 when he left to join the sheriff's department, Hatch Police Chief Tim Thornton said. There were no complaints against Martinez, and no discipline. But Thornton said that anyone who feels they were victimized by police are encouraged to come forward.

Stewart said that there was a background investigation conducted by an outside company that includes contacting internal affairs at past departments and looking for complaints.

“The person you see here, quite frankly was not the person that I hired,” she said, referring to the former deputy’s mugshot.


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