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Tai Chan admits to shooting fellow deputy: “He was going to kill me”

Tai Chan, the former Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputy accused of shooting and killing a fellow deputy, took the stand in his own defense Friday morning.

Chan allegedly killed Jeremy Martin inside the Hotel Encanto in 2014. The two deputies were spending a night in Las Cruces on their way back home after dropping off a prisoner in Arizona.

“He was going to kill me, it was self defense,” Chan told jurors.

The two men had drinks at a club, a restaurant and a bar that night with friends. Witnesses testified the deputies got into an argument but appeared to be okay before they were dropped off at their hotel.

Friday, Chan testified he never worked with Martin prior to the transfer in 2014. He also talked about learning self-defense while at the sheriff’s academy. “We are trained to stop the action that is going to kill you,” Chan said.

Chan also testified he and Martin went to Hooters and drank a pitcher of beer while eating, then went to a bar to drink and play pool. Both had 2-3 beers at the first bar, Chan testified.

Chan told jurors Martin and him got into a heated argument at a bar. Martin called him a “faggot,” Chan said.

Chan said he was feeling “buzzed” when his friend came to pick him and Martin up that night. They left Hooters to go to a club where Martin and Chan both had at least one drink, the former deputy said.

When a prosecutor asked if “there was a lot of drinking going on,” Chan answered “yes.” Earlier this week, a witness testified Chan’s blood alcohol content level that night was .24, three times the legal limit in New Mexico.

Chan said he and Martin began arguing back at the hotel room. Chan told jurors Martin had concealed firearm and showed him the weapon inside the hotel room.

Martin began pushing Chan and tried kicking him in groin, Chan testified. Later that night, Chan was inside a restroom and Martin allegedly began banging on the door, yelling, “open the (expletive) door.”

Chan asked Martin to sit down. When Martin turned around he was holding a gun saying “I’m going to shoot you.”

Chan said Martin began to hit him in the face with the gun and he tried to defend himself. The two deputies started fighting for the gun and several shots were fired, Chan testified in court.

Chan told jurors he grabbed the gun and started firing at Martin as Martin ran out of the room. When asked by his defense attorney why he shot an unarmed man in the back, Chan replied, “After he shot at me. I just needed to stop the threat. I didn’t know if he was coming back.”

Prosecutors say Chan fired 10 shots at Martin the night of the killing, striking him at least five times.

Chan says he started yelling for help and for someone to call 911, and since he believed no one was going to help him, he ran to the stairs.

“I saw blood all over my hands and so I started checking myself for holes,” Chan said, adding he was relieved when police arrived.

“Did you have a plan to kill Martin?” a defense attorney asked.

Chan answered “no.”

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