Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio's "Community Liaison" Deputy Hector Martinez Finds Anti-Latino E-mails "Funny"

U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow's recent order spanking Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, mainly dealt with Sheridan and Arpaio's contempt for Snow's ruling in the ACLU's big civil rights lawsuit, Melendres v. Arpaio.

Snow has ordered that both Sheridan and Arpaio be present Monday, March 24, for a hearing on the pair's statements to MCSO deputies before an October 18 sweep of the West Valley, during which Sheridan called Snow's ruling "crap."

But one other issue on the agenda for the hearing is Arpaio's choice of a Community Liaison Officer, a position Judge Snow's October injunction required the MCSO to create.

To fill this position, the MCSO, in its infinite wisdom, chose Detective Hector Martinez, a veteran of the agency's Human Smuggling Unit and Criminal Employment Squad, to be the MCSO's point of contact for the Latino community.

See also: --Joe Arpaio's Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan Mouths Off, Arpaio and Sheridan Head to the Woodshed March 24

No doubt Joe and his sycophants thought this was a hilarious way to give Judge Snow the single-finger salute.

After all, who better to organize community meetings and do outreach to Latinos, than one of the deputies who has been arresting Hispanic moms and dads, sons and daughters, grandmothers and grandfathers for either working without papers or simply being without papers?

Read excerpts from MCSO Deputy Hector Martinez's December deposition.

Why, just think of all the people skills Martinez developed while helping with the business raids and sweeps of Hispanic neighborhoods, which have terrorized the Latino community for years now.

Some of those people skills are on display in a 2008 Arizona Republic slideshow of an MCSO immigration sweep in Phoenix, where Martinez is featured arresting Latinos with a sneer.

The bilingual Martinez, who calls Nogales his hometown, also enjoys a joke while on the job, even when Hispanics are the butt of the joke.

Martinez was one of the several deputies who received bigoted joke e-mails from other MCSO employees, including an infamous one featuring what was described as a "rare photo" of a "Mexican Navy SEAL."

It showed a Chihuahua in scuba gear.

During a December deposition in an ongoing federal civil rights lawsuit against the MCSO and Arpaio brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, Martinez was asked about receiving the e-mail.

Excerpts of the deposition were recently filed with the judge by Arpaio lawyer Tim Casey.

In these excerpts, Martinez tells DOJ attorney Ed Caspar that he does not remember the 2008 Mexican scuba-puppy e-mail specifically, but he likely would have found it amusing.

"I would probably think it's funny because Chihuahuas are meant to be kind of like a Hispanic dog," Martinez says, adding later, "Me, as Hispanic, I don't find it offensive."

Caspar asks Martinez whether he thinks the joke is okay to e-mail to others.

"No, I don't think it's appropriate," replies Martinez.

"Why is it not appropriate?" wonders Caspar.

"Because people might find it offensive," the deputy answers.

Another e-mail that Martinez received was titled "Indian yoga vs. Mexican yoga." The "Mexican yoga" showed a couple of borracho guys who are obviously feeling no pain.

The e-mail was sent to Martinez and several other deputies by the notorious Sergeant Brett "Shut Up" Palmer, who also sent the Mexican Navy SEAL photo out and who later claimed in court that he had been disciplined for e-mailing these images.

Palmer, of course, outranked Martinez and was Martinez's immediate supervisor in 2008.

Caspar asks Martinez about the Mexican yoga image. Martinez states that he personally would not find it offensive.

"Because in our culture, a lot of friends and family tend to get really drunk and do things like that," Martinez tells Caspar.

Martinez also explains how the image made him feel.

"Well, when I looked at it, I mean it symbolizes, you know, sometimes what we do," he states. "I mean as far as, you know, Mexicans falling over drunk and passing out, it symbolizes that, you know, it's happened to us. You know, it's happened to me, to friends that I have. So I find it funny."

Yet, Martinez says he would not circulate a joke like this, and that other MCSO deputies, as part of a "professional agency," should not do so as well.

Martinez says others might see "bias" in the photo, that it might seem to be "making fun of Hispanic people."

Martinez did forward one of the e-mails to his personal e-mail account. But there is no record he forwarded any of these e-mails to others.

Snow mentions the issue of the Community Liaison Officer briefly in his recent order, noting that the ACLU has raised objections about the choice of Martinez for the post of CLO.

The Injunction requires the Defendants to create a Community Outreach Program and appoint a Community Liaison Officer ("CLO"). The purpose of this program is "[t]o rebuild public confidence and trust" by requiring MCSO to "work to improve community relationships and engage constructively with the community."

Plaintiffs have expressed concerns about the deputy that Defendants chose as the Community Liaison Officer. Apparently he was a member of the Human Smuggling Unit ("HSU") that was central to this case. One of the issues that occupied some time at the trial concerned offensive cartoons that were circulated among the deputies of the HSU concerning persons of Hispanic ethnicity.

The deputy chosen as the CLO apparently received an offensive email that was being forwarded around the HSU and, as a result, was deposed in this action. In his deposition testimony he apparently testified [that] he considered the cartoon funny.

Without commenting on his merit as an employee or as a deputy, the Court can understand how such testimony in the course of the current litigation would lead the Plaintiffs to believe that the designated CLO would not be sensitive to their concerns in this matter and that the MCSO was insensitive to that realistic concern.

Accordingly, the parties are asked to submit the relevant portions of the transcript of that deputy's deposition prior to the Monday hearing.

For me at least, Martinez's work in targeting the Hispanic community is far more troubling than his comments regarding the e-mails. His work on the HSU and CES should be enough to disqualify him for the job.

Got a tip for The Bastard? Send it to: Stephen Lemons.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX. Follow Stephen Lemons on Twitter at @StephenLemons.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons