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Jail guards hurt by Rio Arriba inmates

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Four inmates in the Rio Arriba County jail have been charged for beating up two jail guards last month and causing them to be admitted to a hospital.

Those guards still haven’t returned to work, a woman who answered the phone at the jail in Tierra Amarilla said Wednesday.

Daniel Suarez, Jonathan Avila-Cisneros, Christopher Chacon and Cristian Orozco have all been charged with two counts of battery on a peace officer and one count of conspiracy to commit battery on a peace officer for fighting with guards Ricardo Romero and Cedric Patterson on Nov. 9. Patterson was punched and kicked several times as he was on the floor, and Romero reported having his back injured in the scuffle.

Criminal complaints as well as memos written by jail guards say Suarez was upset about not being able to visit his girlfriend because the jail was on lockdown for an incident that happened earlier in the day.

One jail officer’s report says Romero asked that an inmate pod be opened, and that’s when Suarez came out to punch Patterson. Other inmates then joined in the fracas.

Several officers responded to a pod – an area that houses inmates – because Suarez was angry and had been yelling about the lockdown.

According to a memo Patterson wrote that was obtained by the Journal through a public records request, Suarez yelled at Patterson, “Why did you tell my (girlfriend) we are on lockdown?”

Patterson says Suarez pushed past Romero and guard Justice Cruz and began hitting him with a fist. Patterson grabbed Suarez by the neck and threw him to the floor. That’s when inmates Chacon and Avila-Cisneros also came out of the pod and began to punch and kick Patterson in the face and body, the memo says.

Rio Arriba County Deputy Joseph Cannon wrote in a criminal complaint that he viewed surveillance video and saw Suarez push past Romero and punch Patterson in the face. Suarez, Chacon and Avila-Cisneros then “focused all their attention on Patterson,” the complaint says.

Patterson and Suarez began fighting on the floor, and Avila-Cisneros kicked and punched Patterson in the head. Chacon then started hitting Patterson in the back of the head with a “hammer fist,” the complaint says.

While Patterson was being beaten, inmate Orozco had Romero, the other guard, in a head lock and pulled Romero away from helping Patterson.

Chacon and Avila-Cisneros continued to punch Patterson in the back of the head before Chacon kicked and stomped Patterson’s head. The complaint ends before explaining how the inmates were restrained.

No jail administrators were available to speak with the Journal on Friday.