Police sgt. says governor was ‘inebriated’

Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – A Santa Fe police officer’s recording shows the officer and a Santa Fe hotel security guard discussing whether Gov. Susana Martinez was intoxicated in the moments after she talked to them about a report of loud noise and bottles being thrown from a room rented to one of her staff members this month.

Santa Fe police Sgt. Anthony Tapia’s belt recorder picked up conversations in the lobby of Eldorado Hotel and Spa after Tapia had responded to a late-night call from the front desk that people in a room on the fourth floor were being loud and throwing bottles off a balcony.

Martinez is heard briefly on the tape, the latest to be released from the incident, then moves away, apparently to talk to whoever lodged the noise complaint about her group. Tapia and the security guard then begin discussing a resolution.

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Tapia tells the security guard: “Obviously, we’re not going to be able to move her,” apparently referring to the governor. He asks the security guard, “What can we do to resolve this?”

“Honestly, you know, I’ve only really been working here for like a month and a half,” the guard adds, “so like this actually is my first run-in with this sort of thing. … I would never expect the first time to be the governor. I really don’t know what to do in this situation because like I can tell that she’s, that she’s kind of …”

“Inebriated,” Tapia finished.

“Yes,” the guard replied.

On Friday, when asked by the Journal whether she was intoxicated during her 1:30 a.m. Dec. 13 encounter with police, Martinez had said, “Absolutely not.” A spokesman for Martinez later said the governor had about one cocktail that night. A holiday party for the Governor’s Office staff had been held in Eldorado’s ballroom earlier.

At the beginning of the Tapia belt recording, the hotel guard tells Martinez that he personally went to the room and heard how loud it was. He also says a woman sitting in the hallway, who he said was a guest at the hotel, also complained of loud noise. “She was saying that she heard you guys the whole night, and it’s been loud for a while,” the security staffer said.

Martinez, speaking slowly and enunciating each word, said the room was empty two hours earlier when she went up to it after leaving the gala.

She also said that someone had to be kicked out of the room about five hours earlier for throwing bottles.

The Eldorado Hotel and Spa in Santa Fe Friday December 18, 2015. Several phone recordings surfaced from a late night holiday party involving the governor and her staff. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Several phone recordings surfaced from a late-night holiday party involving the governor and her staff at Eldorado Hotel and Spa in Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

“I went up there two hours ago, and it was empty – empty,” Martinez said. “No one was in that room.

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“We finished downstairs at midnight, at your ballroom. It’s been empty. Five hours ago, there was somebody that we said, ‘Get out of the room. Do not be doing what you’re doing.’ And there were bottles being thrown over. We said, ‘Get the hell out, and stop.’ But now the complaint is bottles are being thrown over the balcony, and I am in there. There are no bottles being thrown over.”

After recordings of conversations between Martinez and police dispatch personnel were released last week, a statement from Chris Sanchez, Martinez’s spokesman, said snowballs had been thrown from the fourth-floor balcony, not bottles. The police have said they found no broken glass beneath the balcony.

On Tuesday, the Governor’s Office stood by the snowball version of the story and said that when Martinez says on the Tapia tape that bottles were thrown, she was only recounting what she had been told by someone at the hotel’s front desk. It was later found that snowballs were thrown, not bottles, according to Martinez’s staff.

Sanchez released a statement Tuesday saying, “The Governor does not believe that throwing snowballs off a 4th story balcony at night is somehow less serious than throwing a bottle. Either behavior is dangerous and entirely unacceptable.”

On the Tapia recording, after the hotel guard told Martinez that there were noise complaints earlier for loud music and that the most recent complaint was of loud talking coming from the room, Martinez offered a testy apology. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know that we could not talk in our rooms.”

The governor then says that she’s going to go speak to the woman in the hallway who made complaints and can’t be heard in the rest of the recording. “I’ll go talk to her, thank you,” the governor says.

In the recordings released last week, Martinez tells a Santa Fe Regional Emergency Communications Center dispatcher that she was in the room with her developmentally disabled elder sister, Lettie, along with about six other people eating pizza and drinking Cokes. She tells the dispatcher to call off officers responding to the complaint call.

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On the Tapia tape, the Eldorado guard tells the governor, “I went up there 15 minutes ago and personally heard how loud it was.”

“I didn’t even know who was in there,” the guard tells Tapia later. “Also, I don’t believe there was six people in there. There’s quite a few people in there, unfortunately.”

The front desk clerk initially had called police to have guests in the room rented by Martinez’s staff member removed from the property because of the alleged noise and bottle throwing and what the clerk said were repeated warnings.

Tapia offers the guard his cellphone number and asks him to call if there is another incident and says he can possibly work with her State Police security detail on a resolution. The guard then says, “We can’t really get them to leave. I don’t really know what to do.”

“Well, I think it’s resolved for at least a little bit,” Tapia says.

“I hope so,” the guard replied. “I hope they realize they’re loud at least and kind of at least keep it down. I don’t know if they will, though. Who knows?”


Timeline

On Dec. 12, Eldorado Hotel & Spa staffers told police they received complaints about loud partiers. It’s unclear when those complaints came in, and hotel management did not respond to Journal requests for details.

Otherwise, here’s a timeline of the night’s events:

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6:30 pm — Governor’s holiday party begins in hotel ballroom

Midnight — Holiday party ends

1:30 am — Hotel clerk calls Santa Fe police to report complaints of a loud party in Room 465. Clerk says there also were reports of bottles being thrown off the balcony, that the partiers had been warned and she asks police to escort them off the property.

1:32 am — Santa Fe police officers are dispatched to hotel.

1:32 am — This is also when Gov. Susana Martinez, who was in Room 465, arrives downstairs to ask the clerk about complaints she heard the hotel received. The clerk calls police back and puts the governor on the phone. This conversation lasts six minutes, as Martinez talks to two dispatch employees.

1:34 am — Santa Fe police officers, including Sgt. Anthony Tapia, arrive while the governor is on the phone with dispatch.

Around 1:40 a.m. — Governor is off the phone and talks to hotel security and Sgt. Tapia, whose belt tape records part of the conversation.

Martinez then apparently leaves to go back upstairs and hotel security and Tapia discuss situation, including comments that she was inebriated.

Tapia leaves his card with his cell number, telling security to contact him if there are any further problems.

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