CLAYTON, N.M. (KRQE) – A Clayton man has been slapped with felony assault charges for reportedly going to court while having COVID and refusing to wear a mask. He’s now facing 12 years in prison.

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“We take that very serious. It’s obviously a health issue that is of importance to everybody,” Clayton Police Chief Scott Julian stated. Phillip Archibeque went to Clayton Magistrate Court earlier this month for allegedly trying to strangle his girlfriend, who the department confirms used to be a Clayton Police officer.

Police say Archibeque went there knowing he had COVID, and without wearing a face mask. Now he’s charged with five felonies, including aggravated assault on a peace officer and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against law enforcement and the district attorney personnel he allegedly exposed to the virus in court. “And the deadly weapon in this situation is COVID,” Julian added.

Some people KRQE News 13 talked to Wednesday said Archibeque should face some sort of penalty. “It was malicious. And, I don’t know, he should be charged,” Terrance Vall of Albuquerque stated.

The career criminal emailed KRQE Wednesday morning, suggesting police have gone too far in charging him.
However, Chief Julian, one of the people exposed in court, disagrees. “I don’t know of too many cases around the state right now where individuals are being charged for exposing individuals to COVID, but I felt under the circumstances that the intent was shown,” Julian stated.

Chief Julian said no one who was exposed in court has reported getting COVID, and the police involved are still working. The district attorney’s office said it knew Archibeque had COVID because he was openly telling people he did, prompting him to get kicked out and his hearing was postponed. Archibeque heads back to court at the end of December.