Fight with Española Police Leaves Veteran with Punctured Lung

  • 8
  • 4 min to read
isodorio padilla lapel screenshot taser removal

Española Police Officer Derrick Valdez’s lapel camera captures an EMT attempting to remove the Taser projectiles Valdez fired into Isodorio Padilla.

A 62-year-old retired Navy SEAL was left with two broken ribs, a punctured lung, a cut to his face and a taser wound on his chest after his arrest by Española Police Department officers outside his home last month.

“That guy was strong as f---,” Officer Gabriel Wadt said as EMTs treated a detained Isodorio Padilla yards away.

“Knees to the back, couldn’t break him bro,” responded Officer Derrick Valdez, five minutes after he and Wadt told Isodorio Padilla they had not kicked him in the preceding brawl.

Immediately upon hearing Valdez’s comment, Sgt. Cody Martinez reached over and turned off Wadt’s lapel camera.

Police reports state Isodorio Padilla and his brother, John Padilla, were both medically cleared the night of Dec. 23 and taken to the Rio Arriba County Detention Center without incident. Isodorio Padilla’s medical records show he actually remained in Española Hospital and was released on Christmas.

The brothers’ neighbor called police Dec. 23 to report that a dispute over wood had escalated that day when Isodorio Padilla made threats on the man’s life and that of his family—which the brothers deny.

Lapel footage, available on the Rio Grande SUN website and YouTube page, shows officers speaking to the neighbor then approach the brothers’ gate where John Padilla was standing on the other side to discuss the matter with him and ask his name. He and Valdez immediately begin to argue, neither willing to tell the other their name. Martinez offers his name and tries to step in, but John Padilla insists on speaking to Valdez.

As Isodorio Padilla arrives outside the gate, the brothers get into separate arguments with officers, with Isodorio Padilla saying he was yelling because he did not have his hearing aids.

Martinez wrote in his report that he told John Padilla if he continued to be aggressive, he would open the gate and take him to jail. Footage shows John Padilla respond “I’ll crack your f------ face,” and Martinez immediately rushes and shakes the gate.

Though officers claim in the video and Valdez’s written report that Isodorio Padilla attacked Martinez, video shows him grab the gate from the outside to hold it closed as John holds it from the inside.

Valdez and Wadt wrench Isodorio Padilla from the gate and struggle with him on the ground. Details of the fight are obscured by low light and low-quality footage, but Isodorio Padilla can be heard screaming repeatedly that he is hurt and that he does not have to give them his hands.

Eventually, with each officer holding one of the man’s arms out, they tell him to roll over or be tased, as he lay still on his back yelling that he cannot move because he is hurt.

Meanwhile, off camera, John Padilla ran back into their home and was arrested at gunpoint by Martinez and Officer Ladislas Szabo when he came back out. Martinez wrote that John Padilla had said he was going to go get a gun, while John Padilla maintained in an interview that he actually said he was going to put away his dog because one of the brothers’ several mastiffs ran outside and he was afraid the police would shoot it. Officers did not find a gun on John Padilla when he came back out of the house and a dog was visible in the yard as officers led him away.

Footage shows Isodorio Padilla, now handcuffed in the front and clinging to the gate, threaten the officers.

“Get out of my place,” he said. “I’m gonna shoot both of you, all of you.”

Wadt touches his taser to Isodorio Padilla, drive stunning him. Officers allow him to close the gate to lock it before leaving and they walk in front of it, but he slams the gate into Wadt and Valdez, later saying he was worried about his dogs escaping. Valdez shoots him with his taser and Isodorio Padilla falls to the ground.

Officers then cuff Isodorio Padilla behind his back without significant incident and he receives preliminary treatment from medics and is transported to Española Hospital.

isodorio padilla police brutality injuries

Isodorio Padilla on Dec. 26, one day after being released from treatment at Española Hospital for two broken ribs and a punctured lung from his struggle with Española Police Department officers.

The Department filed criminal complaints against both brothers, but charges have only been pursued against John Padilla, who was released from the Rio Arriba County Detention Center Dec. 26. Due to his hospitalization instead of detention, Isodorio Padilla’s criminal complaint was reportedly sent to the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office rather than pursuing the charges in Española Municipal Court like John Padilla.

John Padilla currently faces a Feb. 4 trial on charges of concealing identity, refusing to obey officers, and two charges of both resisting officers and assault on a peace officer.

John Padilla’s defense lawyer Todd Bullion said he will likely file to push back the trial date, unless he is able to interview all potential witnesses in time. 

He said a tort claim for damages will probably be filed with the city of Española over Isodorio’s injuries.

“They knew that (Isodorio Padilla) had some things going on, and what they were there for initially was a dispute about wood between neighbors,” he said. “Even in an issue where there is an officer safety concern, they have to act reasonably and that clearly didn’t happen here.”

Española Police Chief Roger Jimenez said knee strikes are in line with Department policy and law enforcement academy training, and that the officers’ use of force was justified. He said regardless of mental health issues, officers have to take threats seriously.

“I know there’s always, ‘Well he has post traumatic stress disorder’ or ‘Oh he’s schizophrenic,’ but people kill people, that’s just the facts,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that he did get injured, but I really feel that this could have been avoided with their actions and not with our officers.”

Isodorio Padilla said his actions that night came from symptoms of PTSD from his time in the armed forces, as well as fear for his brother and his dogs, to whom he refers exclusively as his kids.

“They were going to hurt my family,” he said. “They were going to hurt my brother.”

He said he is going to have surgery for a hernia he believes was caused by the December incident and that his PTSD is much worse.

“I can’t sleep,” he said through tears, “I’m worried about them coming back.”

Wadt came under fire in recent weeks over an October incident in which he slammed a cuffed man to the ground and berated him in a profane rant.

(8) comments

Same Ol Same Ol

What a shame "1983", isn't it? Such a pretty city, such a pretty area of NNM. Pity.

Same Ol Same Ol

In my humble opinion the following, or something like it, is what this particular PD needs to turn the ship around in order to re-gain the public trust and confidence… 1) Dissolve the Chief (COP) and Deputy Chief (DCOP) positions… 2) Create a non-sworn Director of Police Services position to top the PD chain of command… 3) Interviewees for the Director position should have, at minimum, the following VERIFIED training/experience: Management AND Leadership training related to the Law Enforcement and/or Security fields (not all security professionals are uneducated cop-wannabe’s, folks), including training such as (Mgmt-level)) Media & Public Relations, Conflict Resolution, Negotiations, Public Speaking, Community Relations; 8 years minimum ranked above sergeant (LE) and/or supervisor (Security) responsibility level exercising Upper/Executive Management AND Leadership responsibilities/capabilities… 4) Interviewee should be able to present to interview board cogent, effective short- and long-term steps of a plan to ensure all sworn personnel obtain/maintain acceptable levels of training related to all facets of police work, including Officer and Community Safety, Community Relations, Interpersonal Communication, Conflict Resolution and Professional Conduct… 5) Successful applicant should be offered a (minimum) 5-year contract with pay comparable to duties of position advertised… food for thought, anyway.

1983 Action

Good idea, "Same Ol Same Ol." Good suggestions. A couple of problems with this idea, however...

1. The City Code of Espanola calls for appointment of a Chief of Police, with ratification by the city council. So, the code would have to be changed in order to implement this idea, which as said, is not a bad idea. As it stands, the current job description (subject to massaging by the HR Director-at the mayor's prodding)-requires higher-level LE experience, training and education. Even if the code were changed, since the appointment is at the mayor's "discretion," he will ensure that an unqualified individual is appointed. The mayor is NOT at all concerned about appointing the "best person for the job," he is concerned about appointing a YES man to the post.

Ask city hall (city manager or human resources) for the names and applications of the many qualified professionals who put in for the COP job after Jimenez was rejected for the position the second time. The "application process" was a sham. Directed and manipulated by the mayor (via the "interview panel"--wink wink--to make Jimenez the "only qualified" applicant for appointment. In what world is that true??? Mayberry's Barney Fife (if allowed to apply) would have stood head and shoulders above Jimenez. At least Barney was honest!

2. As the city code is currently written, the COP is to report directly to the City Manager--NOT to the mayor. Here is where the real problem lies. Like with former COP Louie Carlos, the mayor wants the COP to bypass the CM and HE (mayor) wants to direct the actions of the COP (and other departments). This of course is in violation of city code, since the mayor has no executive authority to direct the day-to-day operations of any department of the city or any of its personnel-including those appointed by him. That is the CM's job (if he or she would ever be allowed to do so). Case in point: Presently the poor interim CM is so far in the dark and without a flashlight he has no idea what is going on inside city hall or in any of the departments. The mayor holds "court" (or his so-called "meetings") with staff members and appointees at a back room at La Cocina. Not at city hall. That is where all of the dirty little deals get made. Most times beyond the knowledge of the CM, the public or anyone else who should be involved.

The real problem here is mayor Javier Sanchez and the culture of backstabbers whom he rewards there at the city. If he wanted to be City Manager, he should have backed a qualified candidate for mayor and applied to be City Manager! That way he would have at least the legal authority to run the city. Right now he does not. He runs a "lollypop society" where only his pets get the perks, raises and recognition. Not the hard working folks who actually keep the city going.

Last thing. When was the last time that the citizens of our valley actually trusted the police department? I can only think back to when Chief Richard Guillen was here. Since then, it has been the same smelly cesspool. I never thought it could have gotten worse than when mayor Alice was here. At least Javier can say that he took city government and the police department to a whole new level--THE LOWEST! God help us all!

1983 Action

For any citizens who care. Tonight the city council is meeting and one of the things on the agenda is a proposed across the board raise for the EPD, including the unprofessional officers who continue to brutalize our citizens. Yet another unwarranted raise with little regard for the city's coffers and budget. Will any of you step forward and come out to be heard? We all have the right to comment during "public comment" and on these items being considered.

The public need to come out and voice their concerns and work on changing the "status quo."

Real change starts at the top! All I see here are excuses from the interim "chief," who once again goes into defensive panick mode and covers for his thugs by saying "...but people kill people, that’s just the facts,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that he did get injured, but I really feel that this could have been avoided with their actions and not with our officers.” Yes, it is "unfortunate" that the citizen got hurt. It is more unfortunate that you are so incredibly tone deaf to the needs of the citizens of our city and that you are in a position which is way above your skill set and competence level. The fact that you, Roger, tout yourself as a "master instructor" in law enforcement should put fear and regret into every citizen who comes into contact (when they actually bother to run patrols) with your department.

When you have a mayor and some councilors (for example-the chair of "public safety") more enamored with their own political aspirations and pleasing the cops and fire department, you then have a city "government" that is self serving-not actually serving the public!

The actions of the EPD and the coverups by the mayor and his cronies are deplorable. It took APD killing and injuring several citizens before the public said "enough!"

Now is the time for residents of our valley to put an end to the violence and corruption of the EPD and its (and the city's) alleged "leadership." Get the US Department of Justice involved. If enough of us citizens care, so will they! Here's how to get their involvement:

How to File a Complaint with DOJ

Criminal Enforcement

If you would like to file a complaint alleging a violation of the criminal laws discussed above, you may contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is responsible for investigating allegations of criminal deprivations of civil rights. You may also contact the United States Attorney's Office (USAO) in your district. The FBI and USAOs have offices in most major cities and have publicly-listed phone numbers. In addition, you may send a written complaint to:

Criminal Section - PHB

Civil Rights Division

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20530

1983 Action

"Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty."-John Adams-

Same Ol Same Ol

If anyone who watched the video can’t tell where the officers lost control please follow me: 1) At the 26 second mark the officer asks, “What’s your name”, without first introducing himself. An introduction would have been a good attempt at building rapport, which can help to de-escalate a situation before it becomes a situation; 2) At the 29-30 second mark, the officer calls the subject “baboso”. Seriously? An officer calling a citizen an idiot? Who does that?; 3) At the 49-50 second mark the sergeant raises his voice to be heard over the subject, who is now speaking loudly, and says,” I’M the f---in’ supervisor!” Use of foul language to initially exert your command presence to a subject standing on the other side of a fence? Way t’go, sarge. 4) At the 1 minute mark the officer encounters the 2nd subject and without finding out who he is or what he wants begins to scold him – “You don’t come in here-” at which point the angry subject becomes angrier. The 2nd subject himself gave the officer very overt clues on how to handle him; he was deaf (said so several times) because of his time in the service and NEEDED to speak loudly and be spoken to in the same manner (minus the officer’s obvious anger) – this is part of what is called “active listening”. Interim Police Chief (IPC) Jimenez says knee strikes are taught in the academy. Gee, that’s great. But guess what, IPC. Active Listening is also taught at the academy. Has been forever. As a PRECURSOR tool to use of force. But, of course, you know this, right? Right? After all, you’re an INTERIM PC. Right? BTW, as this event once again brings to light – what exactly ARE you doing to turn your ship (of babosos?) around, IPC? What type classes/training has been afforded to your people to endear them to the community, not isolate from? And you. What kind of training have YOU taken not just to earn, but keep, YOUR job?

1983 Action

The answer: NOTHING!


These officers should be embarrassed, listen to the way they speak and you can’t tell who the criminal is. Here’s something that might help, when guys are upset about a neighbor and yelling...try de-escalating and not calling names and yelling, idiots!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.