ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico Police officer is out of a job, accused of raping a female DWI suspect. KRQE Investigates obtained police videos showing what the woman told investigators, and how the criminal investigation unfolded. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law,” a New Mexico State Police officer read Miranda Rights to a then-Isleta Police officer back in November.
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Before that moment, 22-year-old Leon Martin was an officer with the Isleta Police Department, making his own arrests and sworn to uphold the law. He’s now charged with two counts of criminal sexual penetration, 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 investigators during a recorded interview. “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.”
In an interview with investigators, Martin told officers he’d arrested a young woman for DWI after she crashed her car into a guardrail on the Isleta Pueblo. “Due to her being involved in a crash, I had to take her to Lovelace,” Martin explained. “And then after Lovelace, then I had to take her back to the jail.”
Martin admitted he didn’t drive the young woman straight to jail. She later reported Martin drove her to a secluded area down a dark road near the Metropolitan Detention Center and had her sitting in the front seat of his patrol car.
“He drove us out into the middle of nowhere and it was a two-lane road,” the woman told investigators. “He starts kissing me, he puts his hands into my shirt and grabs my breasts, and we’re just kissing. And I’m going along with it because I’m scared, I’m in the middle of nowhere.”
She said Martin pulled over and asked her to go to the driver’s side, where she described being 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 woman said through tears during an interview with investigators.
The 21-year-old described feeling scared and helpless like it wasn’t going to end. “He even said that he can change the time on the paperwork,” the woman recalled.
She said she recognized Martin as the same officer who responded to a previous domestic violence call she was involved in. She said after that call, officer Martin messaged her on Facebook and was “trying to hit on her.”
“I ended up adding her as a friend on Facebook,” Martin told New Mexico State Police investigators. He admitted to messaging the woman online but claims he only wanted to make sure she was OK after his initial report.
Then, when he picked her up for DWI in November, “I said you know what, we can drive and talk, so we did drive and talk,” Martin explained. “She kissed my neck and that’s when I kinda pushed her away and I said, ‘Look we can’t be doing this,'” he said.
Martin claims she was making advances on him. “To be honest, we did have sex but it wasn’t for long,” Martin said.
On the long drive to book her into jail, the woman said Martin kept insisting she never tell anyone what happened. She said he even promised he’d ask the judge to go easy on her.
Did you tell her anything like, ‘Hey, I can talk to the judge a little bit, maybe help you out?” A State Police investigator asked Martin.
“Uh, she did say that she wanted help. And I said when we go to our hearing, I’ll ask the judge to help you, but that’s gonna be up to the judge,” Martin replied.
Martin also claims he got turned around and started driving the woman to the Metro Detention Center in Albuquerque instead of the jail in Valencia County; part of the reason he says his transport took so long. Investigators didn’t buy it.
“I mean you’re f**** going west, and you should be going south. That’s a huge difference,” a State Police investigator told Martin. “Is that what happened? You just took her up there because you knew it was a secluded spot?”
Martin replied, “Uh, not. Yeah, but nah.”
“You obviously were wanting to have sex with her,” the investigator continued. “If you didn’t want to have sex with her, you wouldn’t have had sex with her. Right?”
Martin replied, “Yeah well, she said that she did want to talk, and that’s when it did escalate.”
“But you let it happen,” the investigator responded. “Yeah, I let it happen, and I’m in the wrong for doing that,” Martin said.
Isleta Pueblo Governor Vernon Abeita issued a statement saying Martin is no longer employed by the Pueblo, and they’re cooperating fully with the investigation. Martin remains in custody on a no-bond hold, as his criminal case is still pending.
If convicted on all counts, Martin faces up to 24 years in prison. The young woman’s DWI charges were dismissed without prejudice, “In the best interest of justice.”