Saturday, October 30, 2004

Officer Steve Martinez - Muskegon PD

Muskegon Police Officer Steve Martinez was arrested and charged for misdemeanor domestic violence. Martinez was dismissed from the Muskegon PD, after an internal investigation into the assault. Muskegon's Director of Public Safety, Tony Kleibecker stated, "This type of behavior will not be tolerated...By engaging in this misconduct, he has forfeited the privilege of serving our community as a police officer."

Cop charged in assault fired from city position
Thursday, November 11, 2004
By Lisa Medendorp

A 32-year-old Muskegon police officer who entered a not guilty plea last week to a domestic violence charge was fired Wednesday.

Steve Martinez, who had nine years on the force, was "terminated" after Director of Public Safety Tony Kleibecker said he reviewed his department's internal affairs report.

Martinez was arraigned Nov. 2 in 60th District Court on the misdemeanor assault charge. He is charged with assaulting his girlfriend on Oct. 30 at the apartment they shared at 750 W. Grand Avenue and had been suspended without pay since the incident.

Kleibecker said earlier that the department's internal investigation of the incident was separate from the criminal case. The internal affairs report was turned over to Kleibecker Nov. 4.

"This type of behavior will not be tolerated," Kleibecker said. "By engaging in this misconduct, he has forfeited the privilege of serving our community as a police officer."

Kleibecker also said Martinez has not had any disciplinary action taken against him during the 41/2 years Kleibecker has headed the police department.

Officer Michael Addicott, local president of the Police Officers Labor Council, said a grievance will be filed by the union on Martinez's termination within the next 12 days. "We will file the grievance with the understanding that any possible arbitration has to be after the criminal matter is resolved," he said.

Kleibecker said there was no need to wait for the court case to conclude before taking action agaist Martinez because of the information that was uncovered during the internal investigation. He declined to discuss specifics of what the internal investigation found.

"For the internal review, I have to take into consideration the facts that we've put together through our investigation, look at the totality of the circumstances and make a decision based upon that," Kleibecker said. "For me, there's not a legal requirement of a certain level of proof necessary."

Addicott said Martinez denies the allegations and wants to continue to be a Muskegon police officer. "In the grievance, the request will be for his return to the position of police officer, that he receive any money lost and all benefits, and that the matter be expunged from his personnel file."

Martinez was fired following a hearing Wednesday morning, during which his attorney, David Shafer, was present. Shafer said he was aware of alleged reasons for Martinez's termination, and that he found it "embarrassing that the chief law enforcement officer for the city of Muskegon sits as the judge, jury and executioner on a case that's never been decided in a court of law."

Shafer, who has represented other Muskegon officers who were disciplined by the department, added: "It's no secret that morale is at an all-time low among the road patrol officers."

The attorney said the current administration at the department was "either on a house-cleaning mission or has very little concern for the rights of officers."

Shafer said one of the main reasons for Martinez's termination was because department officials believed he was dishonest in answering questions as to whether somebody leaked information to him from a department report prior to his statement to internal affairs.

"This is not true," Shafer said. "I've been involved in a number of cases both representing police officers and pursuing officers for misconduct. In this particular case, the (internal) investigation and termination occurred much more swiftly than in any of those cases," Shafer said.

Martinez remains free on $300 bond.

Officer pleads not guilty to domestic violence
Thursday, November 04, 2004
By Lisa Medendorp

A Muskegon police officer who was arrested for domestic violence last weekend appeared for 60th District Court arraignment Tuesday.

Steve Martinez, 32, was suspended without pay following his arrest Saturday and posted a $300 surety bond after being taken to the Ottawa County Jail.

Martinez was given an arraignment date of Nov. 15 on the misdemeanor charge, but attorney David Shafer had his client appear Tuesday before visiting Judge Richard J. Pasarela. The officer entered a not guilty plea.

Martinez, who works an overnight shift, is accused of assaulting his girlfriend -- hitting her with his fists and kicking her -- after returning home from socializing at the Marine Tap Room, according to a Michigan State Police report.

Shafer, after noting that "in our great country, everyone is innocent until proven guilty," added: "We believe that after a reasonable trier of fact hears all the evidence, Mr. Martinez will be acquitted."

Although the 22-year-old woman contacted Muskegon police after the alleged assault, the investigation was turned over to state police to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

The state police report said the woman had obvious injuries, including an abrasion to the right side of her face, a swollen lip and a swollen eye. The same report also said Martinez had a chin laceration and abrasions on the underside of his right forearm.

Tony Kleibecker, Muskegon's director of public safety, said he hopes to have the department's internal investigation completed by the end of the week, and a decision about the officer's status could be made next week. Shafer said Martinez has a nine-year history with the Muskegon Police Department.

"He's well thought of by fellow officers, he's committed to serving the public, and he sincerely hopes that after the criminal case is behind him, he will be able to continue to serve the public."

The assault allegedly occurred early Saturday afternoon at the apartment Martinez shared with his girlfriend at 750 W. Grand. The state police report said the two had been dating since late July, but that he had just moved in with her the day before the incident.

The state police report said Martinez called his girlfriend from the Marine Tap Room, 1983 Lakeshore, wanting her to join him. She told the state police trooper who interviewed her that he wanted her to drive him home. She went into the bar and was introduced to a relative of the officer's as well as Muskegon Mayor Steve Warmington, who owns the bar. She allegedly left the bar because of Martinez's behavior toward her, and they wound up driving home separately.

Kleibecker said earlier that the two argued and the argument became physical. She alleged in the state police report that he punched her in the face and kicked her, pulling out her false hair braids as well.

The state police report said she was able to get away from him and ran out of the house to get help.

Another tenant in the apartment building told police about hearing a commotion in the apartment shared by Martinez and the woman. Martinez chose not to make a statement to investigating officers. He remains free on bond.

A condition of the bond that he have no contact with the victim was dropped at her request, court records show.

During an interview with state police, the woman said she had been"scared," and "thought she was going to die." But she also said she did not want Martinez to lose his job according to the report.

A pretrial hearing was set for Nov. 16 before Magistrate John Wiewiora. Conviction on an assault and battery/domestic violence charge carries a possible sentence of 93 days in the county jail.

Police officer arrested on an assault charge
Monday, November 01, 2004
By Lisa Medendorp

A Muskegon police officer was arrested for domestic violence Saturday when his live-in girlfriend called 911 following an alleged assault.

Officer Steve Martinez, 32, was lodged in the Ottawa County Jail and later bonded out. A warrant charging the nine-year veteran with domestic assault with issued Sunday, according to the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office.

Arraignment on the misdemeanor charge is expected later this month. No date was available this morning.

Tony Kleibecker, Muskegon's director of public safety, said the officer has been suspended without pay pending the results of an internal investigation. That investigation is expected to conclude later this week.

The woman, who lives with Martinez in the 700 block of West Grand Avenue, called Central Dispatch between 1-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Kleibecker said. "She said she had been assaulted and the person who assaulted her was one of our officers," he said.

She was advised to come to the Muskegon Police Department. Once there, the decision was made to call the Michigan State Police in to handle the investigation, Kleibecker said. He said the woman had physical injuries, but she did not require medical treatment.

State police this morning said the woman had facial injuries.

Kleibecker said the two argued and the argument became physical. He said the officer did not have any apparent injuries.

After state police took a taped statement, "we went to the residence and arrested him for domestic violence," Kleibecker said. He said the officer's service weapons also were confiscated.

The internal investigation will run separately, but parallel to any criminal investigation, Kleibecker said.


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