LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – As new allegations surface, defense attorneys are raising questions over how the Las Cruces Police Department handled the case of a Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputy accused in the killing of his fellow deputy.
The defense for former deputy Tai Chan is calling it a “bombshell” in the case, while family of the man Chan is charged with killing says it’s just “an attempt to blind the truth.”
The lead detective looking into the shooting death of Deputy Jeremy Martin said the Las Cruces Police Department denied her resources to help in that murder investigation.
“That’s a bombshell. That’s really significant,” said John Day, Chan’s attorney.
About a month before former Chan is scheduled to be retried for the 2014 murder of fellow Deputy Jeremy Martin, Chan’s attorney said he has new questions for the lead detective who handled the case.
“That calls into question the validity and the legitimacy of the investigation into the Tai Chan case. We don’t yet how far this goes,” attorney John Day said.
He’s talking about this whistleblower lawsuit Det. Irma Palos filed in October against the City of Las Cruces, which states that “she was denied resources to aid in the investigation, including the assistance of a forensic investigator.”
“She was given a job without the tools that she normally should have been given in a scenario like that,” said Palos’ attorney, Tim White.
While the city denied it in a written response in court, Palos’ attorney said that was just one way members of the police department retaliated against Palos after she told supervisors of a fellow detective sexually assaulting a high school intern.
“Just because she just tried to do the right thing,” White said.
But her attorney said the retaliation should not raise questions over the quality of her work, particularly investigating Chan’s case.
“She’s not going to let someone else’s misconduct affect her ability to do her job properly,” White said.
Martin’s family agreed with that sentiment, telling KRQE News 13 over the phone on Wednesday that this doesn’t change the facts of the case, that Martin was shot in the back while running from Chan.
In a statement, they said this is “an attempt to blind the truth and confuse the jury pool.”
In June, a hung jury led to a mistrial.
Chan claimed self-defense and said key pieces of evidence weren’t tested for DNA.
“There were some serious problems with the police investigation,” Day said.
Day said he hopes to re-interview Palos regarding her recent claims within the next two weeks.
The second trial is now scheduled for May 8.
A spokesperson told KRQE News 13 that Dona Ana County District Attorney Mark D’Antonio expressed outrage after learning of the detectives’ allegations in the news rather than from the Las Cruces Police Department.
He wants an independent investigator to look into whether the Palos’ claims are true.
The detective that Palos reported for sexual assault was sentenced in 2014 to nine years in federal prison for raping a high school intern during ride-alongs.