ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico police officer stripped of his badge and put behind bars is now facing a federal lawsuit for what he’s accused of doing to a DWI suspect when he was supposed to be taking her to jail.
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law,” a New Mexico State Police officer told Leon Martin in November of 2021. From cop to accused criminal, the former Isleta Police officer is also facing a federal lawsuit.
All of this stems from what he’s accused of doing with a DWI suspect he’d met on a prior call, and ‘friended on Facebook.’ KRQE Investigates reported on the former cop’s arrest last year.
In a November 2021 phone call to her father from jail, a 21-year-old woman who’d just been in a car crash and booked for DWI reveals what she said just happened to her at the hands of her arresting officer – then-Isleta Police Officer, Leon Martin.
A phone call to her father
“Can you hear me?” The woman’s father said. “Yeah, hi, Dad,” she replied.
“You know the cop who arrested me?” The woman asked. “Uh huh,” her father replied. “He was the one that hit me up on Facebook, Dad. He told me not to say anything and I haven’t showered. And whenever I get out tomorrow, I want to go straight to the hospital.”
“So, he took you somewhere and did stuff with you?” Her father asked.
That phone call is the first record of her sharing her story. She said Martin drove her to a remote area in Albuquerque, pulled over, and asked her to go to the driver’s side of his patrol car, where she claims she was raped.
“They teach you fight or flight, but if it’s an officer you get charged if you fight, and you get charged if you run,” the tearful woman recalled during a recorded interview. “He even said that he can change the time on the paperwork.”
She reported the rape and New Mexico State Police officers arrested Martin. He was booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center in November of 2021, charged with two counts of rape, false imprisonment, demanding or receiving a bribe, and violation of ethical principles of public service, all felonies.
“To be honest, you know I do regret it,” Martin told State Police investigators. “It did escalate. I could have prevented it. I should have prevented it. But it just, it escalated too far to what I wanted it to.”Former Isleta Police Officer, Leon Martin
With his criminal case still pending, his alleged victim is now suing Martin and the State of New Mexico for negligence, arguing the state “negligently failed to properly train and supervise Martin.”
The lawsuit has reached federal court. “You could see at Lovelace when I left, there’s an hour-and-a-half of time missing before I got back to the jail, Dad,” the woman said in a phone call from jail to her father.
At the heart of her case is evidence that Martin drove her to a secluded road near MDC, instead of straight to booking in Valencia County. The lawsuit against him states “Martin turned off his radio and location data so that his whereabouts were undetected.”
In a recorded interview with State Police investigators, Martin tried telling them he’d just gotten turned around. “I mean you’re f going west, and you should be going south,” the investigator replied. “That’s a huge difference.”
“Is that what happened?” The detective asked Martin. “You just took her up there because you knew it was a secluded spot?”
“Uh, not. Yeah, but nah,” Martin replied.
“You obviously were wanting to have sex with her,” the investigator said. “If you didn’t want to have sex with her, you wouldn’t have had sex with her. Right?”
“Yeah, well she said that she did want to talk, and that’s when it did escalate,” Martin replied.
In that phone call from jail, the woman’s father encouraged her to speak up right there and then. “I do not trust that in any shape, way or form, in any way do I trust the police,” she told her father. “I do not trust them.”
Since his arrest, a judge agreed to keep Martin in jail pending trial, where a jury will decide his fate for the next 24 years. Martin’s criminal trial is set for June 12.
Martin’s attorney told KRQE News 13, “We are looking forward to exonerating him at trial.” Meanwhile, the federal lawsuit against him is still making its way through the court system.