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Officer pricked by syringe

December 23, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

An El Centro police officer was pricked by a syringe as police struggled to control a man reportedly found with methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in a local hotel Sunday.

The officer was not seriously injured, and El Centro police Lt. Paul Longoria said it is thought the syringe was not previously used. However, the officer will have to be tested for infections as a precaution.

The case occurred shortly after noon as police received a call regarding a person refusing to leave a room in the Mayan Hotel on Sixth and State streets downtown.

When two officers arrived, the person who rents the room allowed them in, at which time they found Joseph Anthony Gonzales, 33, of El Centro, who reportedly refused to leave.

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Longoria alleged the officers, who he declined to identify, found Gonzales about to ingest methamphetamine.

Gonzales, surprised by the officers, moved to the bathroom to dispose of the meth and drug paraphernalia, according to Longoria.

When the officers tried to stop him, he struggled and a physical confrontation occurred.

Longoria said he responded to the scene, adding Gonzales was struggling violently against the officers. He also alleged Gonzales was brandishing a syringe that he refused to drop.

Longoria said police had to strike the suspect with batons and use pepper spray to control him.

At one point during the struggle, an officer was pricked in the finger by the syringe Gonzales wielded.

The officers managed to wrestle Gonzales onto a bed and handcuff him, although he continued to struggle.

Longoria said once officers had Gonzales in a squad car, he calmed down and officers were able to talk to him.

He said it was based on information provided by Gonzales that police think the syringe that pricked the officer had not been used.

The officer who was pricked drove himself to El Centro Regional Medical Center, where he was checked and released.

Gonzales was taken to the hospital by another officer, where he was examined. He was booked into county jail Sunday evening on suspicion of battery on an officer, possession of methamphetamine and resisting arrest.

Information on his bail was unavailable.

Longoria credited the two officers first on scene for "maintaining professionalism during such a violent confrontation."

He also praised the officer who was pricked, stating after the incident the officer refused to end his shift early.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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