Man shot by police accused of biting jail guard

Heriberto Nava-Martinez was being held at detention center for allegedly attempting to disarm an officer at San Juan Regional Medical Center

Steve Garrison
Heriberto Nava-Martinez

FARMINGTON — The 23-year-old Mexican national charged in September with attempting to disarm a Farmington police officer at San Juan Regional Medical Center now faces new charges for allegedly biting a jail guard.

Heriberto Nava-Martinez was charged Monday in Aztec Magistrate Court with battering a peace officer, a fourth-degree felony.

His attorney, Ruth Wheeler, could not be reached for comment on Monday.

A deputy with the San Juan County Sheriff's Office was dispatched at about 8 p.m. Thursday to the San Juan County Adult Detention Center in Farmington after receiving reports of a battery, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

A jail guard told the deputy that Nava-Martinez twice refused to re-enter his cell earlier in the evening after he was permitted to leave for a shower. The guard said he put his hand on Nava-Martinez to escort him back into the cell, and Nava-Martinez pulled away from him, the affidavit states.

At that point, another guard arrived at the scene, and both guards forced Nava-Martinez to the ground, where he was handcuffed, according to the affidavit.

During the struggle, Nava-Martinez allegedly bit one of the guards on the right forearm, the affidavit states.

Nava-Martinez was being held at the detention center on allegations he stole a pick up truck on Sept. 6 and led police on a brief, chaotic chase on East Main Street. Nava-Martinez was transported to San Juan Regional Medical Center after the incident, where he allegedly attempted to disarm a Farmington police officer.

The officer responded by shooting Nava-Martinez several times. The San Juan County District Attorney's Office later determined the shooting was justified.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.