- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico Attorney General agents have raided the office of a southwestern New Mexico district attorney who is facing calls to resign after a suspected DWI traffic stop that critics say she was allowed to leave after officers failed to get her sobriety tests.

According to search warrants obtained by a records request, the Attorney General’s office on Tuesday seized documents and a state car driven by Francesca Martinez-Estevez. She is the district attorney for the Sixth Judicial District overseeing Grant, Luna and Hidalgo counties.

In June, Martinez-Estevez was stopped near Silver City after her state-issued 2015 Dodge Charger was spotted swerving across several lanes of traffic and reportedly driving 100 mph on a Saturday.

Lapel video captured one local officer describing Martinez-Estevez as “loaded,” but police did not give her a field sobriety test or a citation during the traffic stop.

The video of the traffic stop also showed her stumbling during her conversation with officers and giving herself a practice sobriety test and losing her balance walking heel to toe in a straight line. Silver City police reports describe her as having slurred speech and difficulty handling her iPhone.

“Throughout (Martinez-Estevez‘s) contact with the police her gestures and mannerisms often appeared exaggerated,” the Attorney General affidavit for the search warrant said. “She often appeared confused or unable to complete tasks such as manipulating or locating a number in her phone.”

But the two Silver City officers did not conduct field sobriety tests on Martinez-Estevez and let her go. A New Mexico State Police officer also arrived on scene.

Officers have said she nearly ran into an officer’s car and another curb as she drove off.

Jim Foy, an attorney for Martinez-Estevez, called the investigation by Attorney General Hector Balderas “absolutely unprecedented” and said he had never heard of the attorney general’s office prosecuting allegations of speedy and reckless driving.

“Months ago, Ms. (Martinez-Estevez) was stopped by the police, and the matter was investigated by two police agencies,” Foy said. “And neither chose to charge (her with) any crimes.”

He called the attorney general’s actions “purely political grandstanding.”

Foy previously said Martinez-Estevez’s car problems were caused by a flat tire and she does not drink alcohol.

A police report said vegetation and grass were stuck in the front grill of the state-issued car. One officer is heard saying he did not smell any alcohol on Martinez-Estevez, only perfume. The officer also wondered if Martinez-Estevez was taking prescription medication.

The nearly two-hour stop happened four days after Martinez-Estevez won a Democratic primary election seeking a second term.

No criminal charges were filed in the case.

The two Silver City officers were later disciplined.

Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, has called for Martinez-Estevez to step down.

___

Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at https://twitter.com/russcontreras . His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/russell-contreras .


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