A Chimayó man died Oct. 3, while incarcerated at the Rio Arriba County Detention Center.
Juan Archuleta, 44, was found unresponsive in his cell by Jail guard Frankie Meza. Meza tried to rouse Archuleta to take him to “wound care,” but found him blue and cold to the touch, according to an incident report by Rio Arriba County Deputy Joseph Cannon.
When Cannon arrived at the Jail at 9:25 a.m. the medic team from La Clinica del Pueblo were performing life-saving measures on Archuleta. While medics worked on Archuleta, Cannon wrote he inspected Archuleta’s cell. He found nothing unusual except for a milk carton burned on the corners. Case Manager Timothy Gallegos explained to Cannon that inmates use the cartons and tin foil to “ignite substances.”
Medics stopped CPR at 9:50 a.m. and the Office of Medical Investigators was called.
Through Jail paperwork Cannon found Archuleta’s next-of-kin, Margie Benavidez, who is Archuleta’s mother. She was notified of his death by deputies Danny Pacheco and Bobby Wright.
Nicky Gonzales said Oct. 15 she lived with Archuleta for 12 years. They were not married. She said Archuleta listed his mother as next-of-kin because the couple was recently separated.
“He didn’t want to get clean,” she said. “He’s an addict. He tried to get treatment but it didn’t take.”
Gonzales questioned why Archuleta was in jail at all.
“I spoke to him two days before he was arrested (Sept. 29),” she said. “He was at the hospital in Los Alamos and he had a bad abscess on his foot. They wanted to amputate it and he wanted me to come there.”
Archuleta was arrested by city police at 8:57 p.m., Oct. 2, an Española City Police report states. The report, written by Officer Adrian Moya states he was on patrol and directed by central dispatch to respond to a 911 open line on East Jiron.
When Moya arrived he found two men and a woman inside a vehicle. He checked I.D.s on all of them and Archuleta’s showed he had two outstanding warrants.
Moya states Archuleta was arreseted, medically cleared and Archuleta had no medical complaints.
She said he was originally arrested for drinking in public and appeared before Municipal Judge Stephen Salazar, who released him with a summons to appear later.
Salazar did not return a call for clarification on Archuleta’s arrest.
Archuleta did not make his second appearance so Salazar issued a bench warrant for his arrest. Gonzales said city police picked him up on that warrant.
Gonzales questioned the care, policies and procedures in the Jail. She said Archuleta should have been checked every 15 minutes because he was an addict who would be withdrawing from drug abuse. She described the procedure where guards carry electronic wands and hitting a button on each cell to record that the inmate was checked on.
Records regarding Archuleta’s intake were requested Monday. That request was acknowledged and pending.
Calls to Detention Center Administrator Larry DeYapp were not returned by press time.
Cannon states he spoke with Meza, who said he pounded on Archuleta’s cell door at 8:54 a.m. and Archuleta did not respond. Meza went inside and found he was unresponsive.
Meza notified a supervisor and unnamed detention staff initiated CPR.
Meza told Cannon he had passed out breakfast to the cells earlier and it appeared to him that Archuleta was sleeping.
Jail guard Nicholas Varela told Cannon that he and Meza provided a mop bucket to the inmates at 6:43 a.m. and they started distributing breakfast at 7:56 a.m. Varela said Archuleta did not respond either time to him nor Meza.
Two inmates told Cannon that Archuleta was “chiva sick,” meaning he was going through withdrawal from heroin.
Gonzales said that rang true with her.
“He didn’t have anything on him,” she said. “That friend he was helping (when he was arrested) told me he (Archuleta) was trying to get clean.”
However, two inmates told Varela after Archuleta’s death that he lied to staff about being “sick” because he wanted to stay in the pod to “get fixed.” Varela told Cannon that was the term inmates used for getting high or use drugs.
Cannon found a small plastic bag by Archuleta’s body. There was nothing in it and Cannon states in his report it was not clear whether it was Archuleta’s.
“He was a good-hearted person,” Gonzales said. “What happened to him shouldn’t have happened. Just because they’re addicts doesn’t mean they’re a bad person.”
Cannon states he requested the surveillance footage pertinent to Archuleta’s death. Sheriff’s Office Captain Lorenzo Aguilar said Monday they had not yet received the recording(s).
Cannon was also told Archuleta suffered from diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, heart problems and pancreatitis.
A request for Archuleta’s autopsy is pending with the Office of Medical Investigators.