Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

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By Daniel Thompson

Suspect "kicks out" patrol car window


Daniel Thompson

The rear driver's side window of Officer Hitch's patrol car kicked out by Munoz.

A late night call to the Kimball Police Department ended in a broken patrol car window and charges for a suspect at the Days Inn located off of Highway 30 April 16.

A little before 1:25 a.m. on Wednesday, April 16, the silence surrounding the Days Inn hotel was disturbed as owner Wesley Meitus was woken up by his wife alerting him that someone was waiting at the front desk. From the beginning of the interaction, the man, Santos Michael Munoz Jr., 34, appeared hostile and combative, according to Meitus.

"I came out there and he's in my face. And he says, 'I want a room.' I dealt with people over the 17 or 18 years that...people are a little bit uptight that late, because either they're tired of driving or had a long day or something so you kind of get a little bit used to a different. It's not ever more pleasant than during the day," Meitus said.

While Meitus is used to the different customers that tend to come to the hotel at night, the exchange progressively got more tense as time went by.

"He says, 'Well, I want a room.' And he flashes a hundred dollars on the counter. I notice he's got a lot of other cash. And I can tell that he's pretty screwed up and very tense. He's ready to jump over the counter," Meitus said.

It was during this time that Meitus noticed a broken promotional sign for a new movie release that had been sitting on the counter of the hotel lobby that was now lying on the floor behind the counter.

"He said he was waiting for so long that he got upset and started throwing stuff. It's not a big deal, but still, if you wait a while, that doesn't give you an option to destroy the place. It doesn't matter. Even if nobody's here, it doesn't give you an option to tear it down," Meitus said.

Upon requesting a driver's license in order to begin the process of checking Munoz into a room, Munoz, who was accompanied by a female companion identified to be Michelle Valdez, 35, refusesd to provide one, only relenting after being coerced into doing so by Valdez at which point he threw the driver's license down on the counter.

"By this time, he's getting worse and worse. So I said, 'I'm sorry, but I can't give you room," Meitus said.

After denying Munoz a room, the situation grew more tense prompting Meitus to contact the Kimball Police Department.

"It was all kinds of nonsense that at some point it just becomes a blur to me. I said, 'I can't help you. You need to go somewhere else.' 'Well I don't have a car or a way to drive or you know...Why don't you call me a taxi or give me a ride.' I said, 'Alright, I'll get you ride.' So I called the cops, and they showed up in five minutes," Meitus said.

It was at this time, approximately 1:27 a.m., that officer Sterling Hitch with the Kimball Police Department arrived on the scene. Hitch states that when first arriving on the scene, Munoz had calmed down slightly and wasn't quite as combative as reported by Meitus. However, he attempted to interrupt Hitch's interview with Meitus multiple times.

"You could tell that he was upset, but he wasn't combative immediately. When I was trying to talk to [Meitus] about what was happening, he kept standing up and interrupting and wouldn't let us talk," Hitch said.

Due to the interruptions, Hitch decided to place Munoz in his patrol car while he continued to talk to Meitus at the scene. It was at this point that things started to escalate.

"It was very strange. I told him to head out to my patrol car and he said, 'You head out to your patrol car.' And I said, 'I will. I'm going to follow you out to the patrol car.' And he said, 'I'm going to follow you out to the patrol car.' And he just was being really argumentative," Hitch said. "So finally we got out to the patrol car, and I said, 'Go on and have a seat. I'm going to write you a citation.' And he refused to sit down. I told him he wasn't under arrest at this time. He just needed to be placed there for my safety."

After placing Munoz in the patrol car and beginning to fill out a report, Munoz grew violent.

"I heard him yell, and then I saw him through the back window kick out my window," Hitch said.

While still in the patrol car, Munoz started to take a threatening tone with Hitch, also claiming the he was "psychotic" and that he's been bipolar since 2001 and was off his meds, according to the arrest affidavit.

"Once in my patrol car he stated, 'I'm a psychotic [expletive] and I'm not on my pills.' He then began to yell, 'Now I'm mad! Now I'm mad, boy! [expletive]. Now I'm [expletive] mad, boy! Punk!' all while spitting in my car," the arrest affidavit said.

Upon arriving to the Kimball County Jail, Munoz became even more uncooperative, according to Hitch.

"I opened the car door, asked him to step out, and he told me no. I asked him again, and finally he stepped out of the car. I grabbed him and began escorting him to the jail. He pulled away and resisted. In the process, he cut my hand. My hand started bleeding. I grabbed him again and got him up to the jail. And then I got him inside the elevator and he said, 'See what I did to your window? Imagine what I could do to your face,'" Hitch said.

After arriving in the jail, Munoz began to request an ambulance, stating that he couldn't breathe.

"So we had an ambulance come. The dispatcher was trying to speak to him through the glass and he began spitting at the glass at her. When the paramedics showed up and asked him what was wrong, he said f you and called them [expletive] and just wouldn't allow them to talk to him," Hitch said.

Even after both his hands and feet were cuffed to the bench in the jail, Munoz continued to be disruptive and combative.

"I had him handcuffed and I had his feet cuffed to the bench so he couldn't do anything except spit so he just spit everywhere," Hitch said.

Munoz was booked in on two counts of Criminal Mischief amd one count of Assault on a Peace Officer in the Third Degree, Resisting Arrest, Disturbing the Peace, and Disorderly conduct.

No criminal charges were filed against Valdez.

According to Hitch, drugs are believed to be a factor in the events that transpired.

"The female, we talked to her later, and she stated he was on methamphetamines during the arrest," Hitch said.

Munoz remains in custody at the Kimball County Jail, and his case was heard in Kimball County Court on Wednesday, April 23. However, the results of the hearing were not available at press time.


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