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BCSO rearrests man freed because of virus scare

Joseph Vasquez, 38 (MDC)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a man the Metropolitan Detention Center refused to book earlier in the week after learning he was exhibiting some symptoms of COVID-19.

He ended up testing negative for the virus, according to court documents.

Joseph Vasquez, 38, was arrested on warrants Friday and booked into the county jail.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court on Wednesday, when an Albuquerque Police Department officer arrested Vasquez on two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on Monday, he told them he had been sick, was coughing and had a fever. So he was taken to Lovelace hospital to be checked out and tested.

Then, the police officer took Vasquez to the county jail for processing, but the jail staff refused to accept him, saying their COVID-19 area was full, according to the complaint. Vasquez was released at that time.

The incident sparked a letter from Albuquerque Police Department Chief Michael Geier to the Bernalillo County manager saying jail administrators do not have the authority to refuse to take people who have been committed to their custody. He demanded “that MDC cease unlawfully refusing to accept arrestees.”

A county spokeswoman did not respond to questions Friday evening about how similar issues will be resolved in the future.

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