Police: Employees charged with attacking off duty NMSP officer

Five coworkers found themselves behind bars and in court Friday after police say they jumped an off-duty officer and took his gun while celebrating the holidays.

It was last December inside Albuquerque’s Convention Center, and the staff from TLC Plumbing, Heating and Cooling were celebrating their holiday Christmas party. 

When the festivities were over, some partygoers went to the DoubleTree, where they were staying, and threw an after party.

Next door, a State Police officer and his girlfriend, who had also been at the party, were sleeping. The off-duty officer, AJ Romero, told police the neighboring room got too loud.

Officer Romero told police he knocked on their door and asked them to be quiet. He said a man from the room came towards him, and a few others began to follow. 

The officer said they started punching him, and when he fell to the ground, he said they kicked him in his face and ribs. His gun was also taken from his ankle holster. 

It took a while to investigate, but five men were arrested Thursday, March 7, and they appeared in court Friday. Rosalio Nunez, Pete Ulibarri, Manuel Herrera, Ezequiel Grado, and Justin Johnson have all been charged with aggravated battery, except Johnson. He is facing a charge for possession of the stolen gun. 

They, however, had another story, telling police the off-duty cop was aggressive and used foul language. Officer Romero suffered a broken eye socket from the attack. 

TLC released the following statement: 

On December 16, 2018, TLC was made aware of an altercation that happened hours after a holiday party in a separate location involving some company employees. TLC will continue to fully cooperate law enforcement to resolve the issue. TLC is committed to ensuring its employees are honest, hard-working, respectable, compassionate, and consistent and if any employee does not exhibit this behavior we will take the proper internal actions.

-Vice President of Service, Tracy Johnson

All five men plead not guilty and were released by the judge. TLC has not said if they’re still working for the company.

Police say there were no security cameras to capture the fight.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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