By Thomas Garcia and Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico
Tucumcari Police Chief Roger Hatcher has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into last week’s Taser shooting of a teenage girl.
Tucumcari City Manager Bobbye Rose issued a brief press release stating the leave is by “mutual agreement.”
Rose said the city has contracted with an “independent firm” to conduct the investigation.
Rose did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday. A staff member at her office said the press release contained all the information that would be released “at this time.”
Hatcher said he shot two Taser darts at Kailee Martinez, 14, Thursday while responding to a domestic dispute between the girl and her mother. One hit her in the head and the other struck her back.
Martinez said she was released from Albuquerque’s University of New Mexico Hospital on Sunday following a two-hour surgery to remove one of the darts from her head.
The surgery left her with 18 staples and six stitches.
“I feel good being home,” Martinez said Tuesday. “It is a lot better than being in a hospital.”
Martinez’ mother, Stacy Akin, said she drove her daughter to police headquarters after they fought about a cell phone.
Hatcher said the girl walked away from the police station and when he talked with Akin she had a bloody lip and scratches from a fight.
Hatcher said he found the girl in a city park, but when he tried to talk to her she ran into traffic without looking.
Hatcher said he was unable to catch her and used the stun gun because he didn’t know where she might go and he “had to get her stopped.”
“I was going to the park to clear my mind,” Martinez said. “I go there when I get angry. It is a place where I can calm down.”
Martinez said she saw Hatcher drive around the park and did not want to stay there and deal with him. She said she was walking west across Monroe Street when Hatcher got out of his vehicle and told her to stop.
“I remember him saying ‘stop, stop’ and then watching him pull it out (Taser),” Martinez said. “The next thing I remember was being in the ambulance handcuffed.”
Akin said her family has hired an attorney but declined to discuss any legal actions the family may take.
Akin said they will return to Albuquerque in a week for a follow-up doctor’s appointment.
“To be honest, none of this should have ever happened,” Akin said.
Rose said Hatcher was placed on administrative leave on Monday.
On Tuesday, Hatcher said he’d been instructed not to talk with media about the case.
Last week, Hatcher said he had a “lawful reason” to use the weapon, which delivers a 50,000-volt electrical current designed to incapacitate its target.