A man is in custody after the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office said he stole a deputy’s cruiser in “a knock out, drag out fight” in Sandia Heights on Monday morning.
Undersheriff Rudy Mora said two deputies were called to the area near San Bernadino and Tramway NE around 7 a.m. for calls about a “suspicious person in the area.”
According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, residents in the area said a man, later identified as 34-year-old Kevin Estrada, was arguing with someone in front of the residence. Another caller later said his truck had signs of being broken into and the license plates had been ripped off.
The deputies said Estrada appeared to be nervous and although he initially was cooperative, he quickly became combative and aggressive and fought with deputies. They used their batons and a Taser but nothing slowed him down, according to the complaint.
Mora said he even ripped a badge off the uniform of one of the deputies.
“It was a pretty violent struggle with two deputies,” Mora said. “He’s a relatively large individual and he at one point was able to take the Taser away from the deputies.”
That’s when, Mora said, Estrada ran to one of the deputy’s vehicles, which had been left idling with the keys in it. Mora said that is common practice to keep the cruisers running so as to keep the computer system on.
Estrada fled the area in the stolen cruiser, with the deputies in pursuit in their other vehicle, leading them to a dead-end dirt driveway near Lowell and Elena NE a couple of miles away, according to the complaint. He lost control and crashed into a retaining wall before climbing out the passenger side window.
The deputies cornered Estrada at gunpoint, and he began to comply with their instructions until they took him into custody.
“While attempting verbal de-escalation to gain compliance, I noticed that Kevin appeared to be screaming for help,” a deputy wrote in the complaint. “It appeared to me that Kevin was speaking to someone else.”
Estrada’s aunt, Irene Perea, said she raised him since he was 14, and he is mentally ill and exhibits signs of paranoia.
Estrada has a lengthy history of misdemeanor battery charges, many of which were dismissed. He is currently awaiting trial for felony aggravated battery after police say he stabbed his neighbor with glass in the arm and neck.
“He’s got mental problems to begin with, and when he does that meth, he goes really berserk,” Perea said. “(He thinks) people are coming after him, he thinks the police are looking for him, going to kill him.”
Estrada was booked into the county jail and faces a slew of charges, including battery upon a peace officer and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle.