By Vic Vela/Journal North Reporter
SANTA FE — State Police officer Steven Carroll testified Monday that he pleaded with an attacker that “you don’t want to kill a cop” as Carroll was being beaten and strangled and eventually was stabbed during a routine arrest gone wrong earlier this year.
“I’m begging for him to just get off of me and go because I just want this to end,” said Carroll, 26, who ended up shooting and wounding the man who stabbed the officer with Carroll’s own knife.
Carroll’s testimony came during the first day of a trial for the man accused of assaulting the officer in February, Ricky Gonzales. The two fought after Gonzales’ attempt to flee from Carroll. The officer had just pulled Gonzales over for a traffic violation off Airport Road.
Gonzales, 39, was shot in the arm during the fight where Carroll was stabbed in the stomach.
In state District Court on Monday, jurors listened to an audio recording of the scuffle. A moaning Carroll could be heard pleading with Gonzales — who was allegedly on top of the officer, pummeling him while reaching for Carroll’s gun — to simply run.
“Dude, I’ll let you go,” Carroll is heard on the recording. “Just run. Run. I’ll let you go, bro. I don’t wanna die …”
Prosecutors say that Gonzales was bludgeoning an officer who was just trying to do his job. But Gonzales’ attorneys argue that “the evidence is going to show this case is blown out of proportion” and that it was Carroll who exercised poor judgement.
“The only person who engaged in any behavior with the intent of taking the life of another human being … is officer Carroll,” said Public Defender Earl Augustus Rhoads III, during his opening statement to jurors.
Carroll testified that he pulled over Gonzales for a broken tail light near the intersection of Airport Road and Paseo del Sol on Feb. 16.
During the stop, Gonzales — who had his brother with him in the car — told Carroll that he did not have his ID. When Carroll asked for his name, Gonzales lied and gave the officer his cousin’s name. It turns out that Gonzales’ cousin had an outstanding arrest warrant.
At some point, Carroll slapped handcuffs on Gonzales and placed him in the back of his patrol car. The officer told Gonzales that he wasn’t under arrest, but that he was trying to keep the situation under control after Gonzales kept interrupting the officer as Carroll tried talking to the brother.
After talking to the brother, Carroll got Gonzales out of the patrol car and took the handcuffs off. Carroll then started conducting a field sobriety test after he smelled alcohol on Gonzales, who told the cop that he’d had a beer a few hours earlier.
After performing an initial field test, Gonzales ran away, out of range of Carroll’s dashboard camera that provided video of the initial stages of the encounter. Carroll chased after him and had a recorder that captured audio of the subsequent fight.
The officer testified that during the chase, which took place in pitch darkness, he warned Gonzales to stop or he’d deploy his Taser stun gun. About the same time, Carroll said, Gonzales tripped and fell to the ground.
That’s when the scuffle started and it wasn’t long before Gonzales — who is bigger than Carroll — got the upper hand, got on top of Carroll and began punching the officer’s face.
‘Fight for survival’
“I felt hard, sharp blows that felt like a rock coming down on my face,” Carroll said of the multiple “vicious blows” that Gonzales was landing.
“At that point, I’m terrified,” the officer testified. “I’m actually terrified at what happens next. For me, in my mindset, this is now a fight for survival.”
Carroll testified that Gonzales was “tugging at my weapon” during the fight.
At some point, Carroll managed to get his hand free to grab his gun and fire two shots. At least one of those shots struck Gonzales in the arm, but Gonzales kept on fighting.
The officer also unsuccessfully tried to deploy his Taser and reached for a knife that he kept on him. But he either dropped the knife or Gonzales disarmed him. Gonzales grabbed the knife and stabbed the cop in the abdomen.
During the fight, Gonzales was also using Carroll’s police radio cord to strangle him.
After several minutes, Gonzales finally got up and left. Carroll tried to fire another shot, but his gun wouldn’t fire.
“During the fight, the magazine may have come out,” Carroll testified.
The officer then radioed for help. Gonzales was arrested by other officers after he was found hiding behind a bush nearby.
Gonzales’ attorneys were critical of Carroll’s actions. Rhoads told jurors that Carroll “attempted to shoot (Gonzales) with his back turned as Ricky was walking away.”
Rhoads also told jurors that “the state is hiding something from you.” He didn’t specify what, but co-counsel Joachim Marjon questioned Carroll about a back-up duty gun that the officer also had on him the night of the fight but was never taken into evidence.
The defense is also making an issue of a second knife at the scene. A Santa Fe city police officer who responded to Carroll’s radio call testified Monday that the second knife was his and he dropped it after cutting off Gonzales’ hoodie.
Pacheco said after Monday’s hearing that it’s not unusual for officers to carry knives that can be used, for instance, to cut seat belts from people trapped in crashed vehicles.
The defense attorneys also wondered if something else was going on with Carroll that night. Rhoads suggested to jurors that before pulling over Gonzales, Carroll told another officer that he “was a little bored that evening. He was missing a little excitement in his job.”
When Marjon asked Carroll about telling another officer that he was feeling “underwhelmed” that night, Carroll said the comment had nothing to do with his mood and that he was referring to “the performance of another officer who was on duty that night.”
Gonzales faces charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery on a police officer, escape from the custody of a police officer and two counts of disarming a police officer. He faces up to 20 years in prison for the charges plus more time as a repeat offender.
The trial is scheduled to last through Wednesday.
4:50pm 2/17/11 — State Police Officer Stable After Shooting: Suspect who was shot by officer Wednesday night is in custody, will be charged with attempted murder.
State Police Officer Steven Carroll, 25, is in recovery and in stable condition after undergoing emergency surgery early today for a stab wound he received while attempting to stop a fleeing DWI suspect off Airport Road in Santa Fe, the State Police said in a news release.
Carroll is a two-year veteran of the State Police.
The suspect, 39-year-old Ricky Gonzales of Santa Fe, also was taken to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center after being shot by Carroll in last night’s encounter.
He is currently hospitalized and in custody until he can be transported to the Santa Fe County detention center, where he will face a charge of attempted murder, as well as other felony counts that are likely to be added as State Police continue their investigation, the news release said.
According to the State Police, Carroll was on duty when he saw a traffic violation around 11:36 p.m. Wednesday and pulled the vehicle over near Airport Road and Fairly Lane in Santa Fe.
Carroll was attempting to administer field sobriety tests when Gonzales fled on foot, and after a brief chase, Carroll caught Gonzales, who alleged assaulted the officer and attempted to disarm him, the release said.
At some point in the struggle, Gonzales allegedly stabbed Carroll in the abdomen below his ballistic vest, and Carroll, in defense of his life, fired his gun at Gonzales and struck him at least once, according to State Police.
8:35am UPDATE: KOAT-TV has identified the suspect shot by a State Police officer last night near Airport Road in Santa Fe as Ricky Gonzales.
Officials say State Police Officer Steven Carroll pulled over Gonzales, 39,
around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday in Santa Fe near Calle Vencejo and Fairly
Road after he suspected Gonzales was driving drunk, according to the latest from KOB-TV.
Carroll has been with New Mexico State Police for two years.
State Police said Gonzales has a lengthy record and believe he ran
from Carroll because he his license has already been suspended and
revoked for a prior DWI conviction, according to Eyewitness News 4.
Breaking at 6:00am — Officer Stabbed, Suspect Shot in Santa Fe: Traffic stop on Airport Road turns violent around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.
A New Mexico State Police officer is undergoing surgery at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe after being stabbed by a man he’d stopped on suspicion of drunken driving around 11:30 p.m. on Airport Road, KOAT-TV is reporting.
The man reportedly took off before the officer could administer a field-sobriety test, and when the officer caught up, the man allegedly stabbed the officer in the abdomen with a still-unknown object, at which point the officer shot the suspect, according to Action 7 News.
The suspect reportedly survived, but his condition and whereabouts are unknown at this point, KOAT-TV said.
Neither the suspect nor the officer have been named.
Police are still on the scene of the shooting, near Calle de Vencejo and Fairly Road, according to KOAT-TV.