BROWNSTOWN TWP., Mich (WXYZ) — A lieutenant with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office was allowed to continue working after being charged with abusing his girlfriend—a fellow officer—earlier this month.
Lt. Nelson Martinez arrived to work at the Wayne County jail as recently as Wednesday, but was suspended hours after 7 Action News contacted Sheriff Raphael Washington’s office, alerting them of an upcoming story on Martinez’s criminal case.
The arrest followed a 911 call on November 4, when a friend of a female Wayne County deputy, according to the police report, said the woman was distress.
“My friend’s been on the phone with me all day trying to leave and get her stuff out of her significant other’s house,” the friend told a 911 operator.
The alleged victim was a deputy with the sheriff's office, and her significant other was Lt. Martinez, a supervisor in the jail.
"She’s on the phone,” the caller told 911, “the last thing I heard was her screaming at the top of her lungs for him to get the F off of her, and his daughter’s crying in the background saying ‘Dad stop, dad stop,’ and now it’s on mute and I don’t know what’s going on.”
When police arrived, they said the woman appeared badly hurt. Her left eye was “partially closed due to swelling,” with visible “bruising and redness.”
Brownstown police said Lieutenant Martinez appeared “heavily intoxicated,” his speech was slurred and he was unsteady on is feet. He denied any physical altercation with his girlfriend, the deputy, and she agreed.
But the lieutenant’s own daughter told police a different story, records show.
She said that a fight over her Spanish homework led her father to push his girlfriend into a grill, and that he punched her with a closed fist multiple times.
She said her father put the woman in a headlock, that the assault continued into another room and the woman was punched yet again in the face.
Lieutenant Martinez was arrested and jailed by Brownstown police, charged by the Wayne County prosecutor with domestic violence on November 6th. But as recently as Wednesday, Martinez was still showing up to work.
Approached by 7 Action News reporter Ross Jones as he arrived to work on Tuesday, Martinez denied striking his girlfriend.
Ironically, on the very same day Martinez was charged with domestic violence, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law new rights for domestic violence victims.
Standing just over her shoulder and applauding was Martinez’s boss, Sheriff Raphael Washington.
“We all know that any form of abuse…can leave scars for a lifetime,” Whitmer said at the bill signing. “We must take survivors claims seriously, and make sure they have the support that they need.”
But rather than suspend Martinez after he was charged, records show Sheriff Washington kept him on the job.
Instead of continuing to work in jail Division 1—where his alleged victim is assigned—Martinez was moved to Division 2, working a different shift. While out on bond, the lieutenant had to give up his gun.
“Is it appropriate for someone facing a domestic violence charge who had to give up his gun to be coming to work at the sheriff’s office right now?” Jones asked Martinez.
“No comment,” he replied.
On Wednesday, 7 Action News told the sheriff's office of an upcoming report about Marintez’s arrest, including specific details contained in the police report.
Later that night, Sheriff Washington decided to suspend Martinez, according to Captain Reid Chakrabarty
"The allegations are serious in nature,” said Chakrabarty, who heads up internal affairs for the sheriff’s office. “A decision was made by the Sheriff to suspend Lieutenant Martinez with pay until the outcome of that legal proceeding.”
An internal affairs investigation won’t begin until the criminal case is concluded.
Asked why Martinez wasn’t suspended friom the time he was criminally charged, Chakrabarty said that Sheriff Washington “didn’t have all of the information at that time.”
Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at email@example.com or at (248) 827-9466.