SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, May 7, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — The Salt Lake City Police Department released body cam video Monday, showing an April 7 incident in which a man who was under arrest fell or jumped from a stairway, plummeting approximately 10 feet to the concrete below.
Robert Martinez, 38, died two weeks later after undergoing surgery for a severe head injury sustained in the fall.
On Monday, SLCPD held a news conference in which the officer-involved critical incident was discussed.
Martinez had been taken into custody by officers responding to a domestic violence call after Martinez’s girlfriend reported that he had assaulted her and was holding her against her will.
Salt Lake City Police Capt. Jeff Kendrick said the department takes domestic violence calls very seriously and they are considered “high hazard” calls.
Two officers went to the apartment at 204 E. Browning Ave., and Martinez at first refused to open the door to allow them inside. Additional officers were then called to the scene, Kendrick said.
When Martinez finally did open the door, he complained of pain in his leg from a previous injury, so medics were summoned to examine his leg.
The medics cleared Martinez and he signed a release saying he did not need any further medical attention.
Martinez was then placed under arrest on suspicion of unlawful detention, domestic violence assault, and aggravated assault, Kendrick said. He was also facing a charge of disruption of a communication device because he had tried to take his girlfriend’s phone from her while she called police.
As the officers were escorting the hand-cuffed Martinez out of the apartment, he had gone down about four steps when he suddenly went over the railing, Kendrick said.
Martinez was unconscious, then regained consciousness. Medics were called again, and Martinez was transported to the hospital, where it was determined he had suffered serious head trauma requiring surgery.
He died two weeks later.
Because Martinez was in police custody when he sustained the head injury that led to his death, the incident is being investigated as an OICI (officer-involved critical incident); however, it isn’t the usual OICI, Kendrick said, because the body cam footage shows that officers were not using any force.
The incident is currently under investigation by the Unified Police Department and the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office.