SANTA ROSA, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico State Police said in a matter of two months, a Department of Transportation worker has attacked two of their officers and tried to run over five more, but he still has a job.
The NMDOT employee, Robert Chavez, lives and works in Santa Rosa.
During his most recent encounter with State Police in early October, five officers were outside his home along Route 66 with a search warrant for evidence in a car theft case. They said Chavez drove at them, forcing them to dive out of the way.
Police said Chavez took a broken down truck he found along I-40, and was planning on selling it to someone in Santa Rosa.
Prior to that, when police went to search his property in September, they said he threw rocks, logs and soda cans at two officers. He’s now charged with attacking seven officers in total.
When Chavez drove at the officer in October, officers had to tase him to get him out of the car. In police video, he’s seen wearing his DOT vest while being arrested. Then officers placed him in a patrol car, but he escaped and they had to chase him down.
Last month, the state sought preventive detention for Chavez, saying he’s a danger to the community. A judge denied it.
In that request, the state also mentioned an incident from 2006, when Chavez assaulted police in court and also injured the district attorney. He ended up serving three years for that attack.
The Department of Transportation said Chavez started working for the state in February. They were unaware of his record because they don’t do background checks.
Chavez is still employed. The DOT won’t say if he’s been suspended or not.