ALAMOSA — An Alamosa inmate on trial for an officer assault racked up more charges Tuesday afternoon when he assaulted sheriff’s deputies on hand for his trial at the Alamosa County courthouse.
The incident occurred when Alamosa County Detention Center inmate Anthony Espinoza, 34, Alamosa, appeared in court in civilian clothing and without handcuffs or other restraints for a jury trial Tuesday on a case involving an alleged assault on a peace officer. Tuesday morning had been taken up with jury selection, and members of the jury were in the jury room, which is separated from the courtroom, waiting for the trial to begin.
Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Yvonne Gonzales, who is investigating the incident, said the district attorney’s office had brought to the court’s attention some discovery to be admitted, which would require the trial to be continued until the following day to give Espinoza’s attorney Public Defender Amanda Hopkins time to review it. Gonzales said Espinoza apparently became agitated over the possible delay and began yelling.
Sgt. Gonzales added that the five detention deputies in the courtroom believed Espinoza was about to lunge at his attorney, so they intervened and began to remove him from the courtroom and the courthouse. She said District Judge Michael Gonzales, who was presiding over the case, tried to calm Espinoza down while he was still in the courthouse. Espinoza allegedly asked the judge if he would receive further charges if he head butted one of the deputies. The deputies then braced themselves for that possibility, so Espinoza was not able to successfully carry out the threat, according to Sgt. Gonzales’ investigation into the incident.
She added that deputies were able to handcuff Espinoza, but he was kicking at them, and when an Alamosa police officer who was on scene brought leg shackles from his vehicle, Espinoza was able to free a leg before the shackles were placed on him, and he kicked one of the sheriff deputies who suffered a concussion as a result.
Espinoza also allegedly spit on one of the deputies who is now being treated for the potential of contagious pathogens until it can be determined whether Espinoza has any infectious diseases. Authorities obtained a search warrant to test Espinoza’s blood.
Sgt. Gonzales and Alamosa County Sheriff Robert Jackson said the deputies who were the victims of the assault on Tuesday were treated and released.
As a result of the altercation, Espinoza faces four felony counts of second-degree assault and may face additional charges when Sgt. Gonzales’ investigation is completed.
Espinoza is being held on $25,000 bond at the request of Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig who was present Tuesday when the incident occurred at the courthouse. McCuaig was prosecuting the case.
Sheriff Jackson commended the deputies for their professionalism in subduing Espinoza and transporting him back to the jail without harming him in any way.
“That’s huge,” he said.
Sgt. Gonzales added, “The deputies did a great job, and the staff at the courts have told me they were impressed.”
Sheriff Jackson said Espinoza’s attorney also thanked the sheriff’s office for the way the deputies handled the situation.
The court declared a mistrial in the trial for which Espinoza was appearing on Tuesday. In addition to that case and the charges Espinoza acquired as a result of the May 9th altercation at the courthouse, he has another peace officer assault case pending, according to Sgt. Gonzales.