The Santa Fe New Mexican
The widow of a Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputy is suing the fellow lawman who gunned him down in a Las Cruces hotel during a work-related trip in 2014 and a bar that had served them both alcohol before the shooting.
Tai Chan has stood trial twice for murder in the death of Jeremy Martin, with juries deadlocked each time, and he faces a third trial in April. But the lawsuit, filed late last week, adds a new legal layer to an episode that shocked Santa Fe.
The suit draws on testimony that Chan shot Martin five times in the back as Martin fled from their room during an argument at the hotel where they had stopped on a trip to transport a prisoner to Arizona.
Chan has maintained Martin was the aggressor and that he shot his fellow deputy in self-defense.
The lawsuit, however, focuses on their drinking.
Citing testimony in court, the lawsuit says Chan’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit for a driver at the time he shot Martin.
Both men earlier that evening had been drinking at a Las Cruces bar, Dublin’s Street Pub and Grill.
The lawsuit charges that its owners and staff were negligent, overserving the deputies, including serving Chan Red Bull energy drink mixed with alcohol, a combination the manufacturer of the caffeinated beverage expressly advises against with a warning on its cans.
Health authorities have cautioned against combining energy drinks with alcohol.
“When alcohol is mixed with caffeine, the caffeine can mask the depressant effects of alcohol, making drinkers feel more alert than they would otherwise,” the Centers for Disease Control has warned. “As a result, they may drink more alcohol and become more impaired than they realize, increasing the risk of alcohol-attributable harms.”
The agency says drinkers who mix alcohol and caffeine are more likely to suffer injuries. Britain’s National Health Service, meanwhile, has bluntly warned “there is the risk that people will engage in risky and dangerous behaviour, such as violence.”
The lawsuit charges the bar continued to serve the men even after staff intervened between them.
“Dublin’s knew, or should have known, that it should not have provided Chan, or any[one] else, with a combination of Red Bull and alcohol, or the additional alcohol beverages,” says the lawsuit, filed in state District Court by lawyer David Foster.
The bar is owned by a Las Cruces company, which could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Filed on behalf of Martin’s widow, Sarah, the lawsuit seeks monetary damages, citing her emotional and financial loss as well as those of their four children.
The case comes amid tumult in the criminal proceedings against Chan.
Before the start of the second trial, a Las Cruces police detective assigned to the investigation filed a lawsuit against the city police department, claiming her bosses had hindered the probe. And during that trial, one of the prosecutors in the case resigned from the District Attorney’s Office in Las Cruces, which is handling the case.
Chan is free on bond while awaiting trial. Contacted Monday, one of Chan’s lawyers in the criminal case, John Day of Santa Fe, said he won’t be representing Chan in the civil case. And the lawsuit may move ahead regardless of what the jurors decide in the next trial.
Contact Andrew Oxford at 505-986-3093 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @andrewboxford.
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