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County corrections officers handle brief unrest

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Sandoval County Detention Center guards stopped a disturbance by nine inmates in less than 50 minutes last month.

Sandoval County spokesman Stephen Montoya said nine of the 18 male inmates in one pod refused to go back to their cells when told to do so on Jan. 14, and detention center staff members responded with counter maneuvers.

According to a probable-cause statement filed in Sandoval County Magistrate Court, a corrections lieutenant was called to the pod about 12:15 p.m. when the detainees wouldn’t return to their cells. The lieutenant told the county sheriff’s deputy taking her statement that the inmates became more argumentative and agitated, even after more corrections officers arrived.

She said the inmates became increasingly aggressive verbally and with body language, and refused further orders. Surveillance video shows three inmates tying their shirts around their faces.

The lieutenant said that behavior led her to fear the guards were about to be attacked, so she instructed them to leave the pod.

“In the video from the pod, after all officers had left the pod, the nine inmates appeared to actively participate in this unrest, as all nine tied shirts around their faces in an apparent display of participation,” the deputy wrote in the statement.

The inmates then poured soapy water on the floor, making it slippery for guards who might enter, and moved plastic furniture in front of the door, according to the statement. One man threw a microwave at the door, damaging the microwave, video indicates.

According to the statement, the jail’s Tactical Support Unit tried to enter the pod, but couldn’t because inmates blocked the door and clogged the food port in it. The corrections officers eventually put two distraction devices called “sting balls” through the food port and used pepper spray, ending the unrest.

Video shows inmates retreating after the second sting ball went off, and guards in tactical entered the pod and fired what appeared to be pepper-spray guns.

Montoya said the disturbance stopped less than five minutes after guards put the first sting ball into the pod and about 45 minutes after the inmates’ initial insubordination.

“After the whole incident was concluded, there were no injuries at all,” he said.

The inmates involved were medically cleared and taken back to their cells.

Fifteen corrections officers responded to the disturbance.

All nine inmates were charged with unlawful assault on a jail, a third-degree felony; conspiracy to commit unlawful assault on a jail, a fourth-degree felony; and assault on a peace officer, a misdemeanor, in addition to the charges for which they were incarcerated. Those inmates are:

  • Aaron Dodson, 36, of Albuquerque;
  • Isaiah Gurule, 20, of Placitas;
  • Benito Lopez, 30, of Albuquerque;
  • Clayton Megariz, 29, of Ojo Caliente;
  • Jose Robert Montano Campa, 20, of Albuquerque;
  • Andrew Daniel Padilla, 29, of Albuquerque;
  • Joey Eugene Salazar, 22, of Rio Rancho;
  • Isaiah L. Tenorio, 27, of Albuquerque; and
  • Daniel Vasquez, 38, of Bernalillo.

Salazar was also charged with petty-misdemeanor criminal damage to property on the accusation that he threw the microwave.



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