The incident occurred on Monday night on U.S. Highway 89 at milepost 445.8 in Gray Mountain, Arizona, according to the Navajo Times. Officer Martin was a passenger in a vehicle that swerved just before crashing into a semi truck that was traveling in the opposite direction. Navajo Nation Police Chief Phillip Francisco said that Officer Martin was killed instantly.
The driver of the vehicle, Rosales Yazzie, was critically injured and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Arizona State Trooper Kameron Lee said that Yazzie, who is not a police officer, was intoxicated, and may face vehicular manslaughter charges.
Chief Francisco said that Officer Martin was coming back from Flagstaff after taking personal days off. Trooper Lee said that the driver of the semi truck was not injured and that the investigation was ongoing.
Officer Martin was originally from Tsébii’ndzisgaii, Utah, and attended Monument Valley Seventh-Day Adventist Mission School in his early years. He is a 15-year veteran of the Navajo Nation Police Department, and had been promoted to Senior Officer in 2007. Chief Francisco said, “He was a good officer. He was always happy to do his job, always friendly and well-liked.”
He said, “It’s unfortunate — tragic. This is unfortunately sad that we’re losing officers. Even if they’re off-duty, it’s still one of ours.” He said that police officers across the Navajo Nation are “quiet and reserved, and shocked.”
In a Facebook post, the Navajo Nation Police Department said:
“It is with great sorrow and significant grief that the Navajo Police Department announces the passing of Police Officer Nelson Martin. The Navajo family extends our thoughts and prayers to his family, friends and loved ones.
I would like you to know that Officer Martin was a School Resource Officer, a member of the Strategic Reaction Team and was a well-liked team oriented officer when conducting his duties in service of our People. He had a positive attitude and he will leave an indelible mark on our personnel. The loss of Officer Martin affects our law enforcement community members…”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Navajo Nation Police Officer Nelson Martin, both blood and blue. Godspeed, sir, we will take the watch from here. Thank you for your service.