A melee described by one sheriff’s deputy as “a riot” at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center on Saturday led to new criminal charges against at least 20 inmates, including three who officials say attacked guards at the jail, according to court records.
Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies who responded to the jail shortly before 11 a.m. Saturday were initially told by dispatchers that “there was a riot in Echo 8 pod” and that inmates may have taken a correctional officer as a hostage, a deputy wrote in a criminal complaint.
But no correction officer was being held, only assaulted, according to the complaint.
Three jail correctional officers said they were attacked by the three inmates in a day room while at least 17 other inmates used sheets and towels to cover security cameras and block doors in a “group effort.”
The inmates in the yard surrendered after Community Emergency Response Team officers arrived at the request of jail personnel, and at least one officer with a pepper-ball gun was posted on a roof.
One inmate was overheard saying, “This happened because of a lack of respect,” according to a criminal complaint.
A Bernalillo County sheriff’s spokesman referred questions to MDC spokeswoman Nataura Powdrell, who did not return phone and email messages on Sunday.
The three men charged in the attack on corrections officers face the most serious felony charges.
Luis Quezada, 37, and Christopher Montoya, 27, both of Albuquerque, and Arturo Tafoya, 24, of El Paso, were each charged with battery on a peace officer, kidnapping, conspiracy and other felonies in connection with the attacks. All three remained in the Metropolitan Detention Center on Sunday in lieu of varying amounts of cash or surety bond.
One correctional officer said that he was talking to an inmate when “he felt someone pulling him down while punching him in the head,” a deputy wrote in the criminal complaints. The officer identified his attackers as Montoya and Quezada, who he said punched him repeatedly in the face.
A second correctional officer used a Taser on Montoya, who fell to the ground but continued to resist being handcuffed, while Quezada continued fighting both officers, the complaint said. During this time, Tafoya was fighting a third officer, it said. Officers also used pepper spray to subdue the inmates.
Deputies observed that the officers received bruises in the fight, but no serious injuries were reported. The complaint did not mention injuries to inmates.
After the officers had all three inmates in handcuffs, they realized that inmates had taken control of the recreational yard, the deputy wrote.
In addition to Quezada, Montoya and Tafoya, at least 17 other inmates allegedly involved in taking control of the recreational yard were charged with felonies that include assault by prisoner, conspiracy and tampering with evidence.
Quezada was in jail awaiting trial on charges that he robbed, sometimes with a weapon, numerous stores in Albuquerque last year.
Montoya was in jail awaiting trial after being arrested following an intense car chase with police last year in which they say he tried to evade arrest by stealing and crashing three different vehicles with police in pursuit.
Tafoya was in jail awaiting trial on charges that he shot at a romantic rival on Christmas Eve last year after leaving a methadone clinic Downtown.