Otero County Detention Center Rioters Identified, Details of Riot Emerge


AlamogordoTownNews.org and KALHRadio.org has gathered additional information and conducted additional interviews around recent riots at the Southern New Mexico, Otero County detention center identifying the names of the 8 rioters arrested and now detained at another location. Those involved and identified per released police documents include; Pedro Feliciano, Fred Rebeles, Eric Amaya, Jaime Espinoza, Anthony Rodriguez, David Torres and Dominique Thomas. 

As previously reported on May 21, 2024 the multiple law enforcement agencies were called to respond to the Otero County Detention Center in reference to a riot.

According reports filed with the Alamogordo Police Department and the Otero County Sheriff’s office the incident that triggered the riot began in the housing  unit D3 when inmates refused to lock down. The reports allege that eight inmates in the housing unit armed themselves with weapons made into spears by breaking and sharpening a broom or mop handle. The detainees placed their bedding to hang on the railing on the top tier rooms to prevent officers from observing what they were doing via cameras or upon entering the unit. 

Law enforcement deployed pepper balls into the housing unit in an attempt to get the inmates to comply; however, the inmates stayed outside of their cells and didn’t lock down. Pepper ball guns are a non-lethal self-defense weapon that law enforcement and military personnel often use. They can be effective at short distances and can stop an attacker more quickly than pepper spray. Pepper ball guns can also provide law enforcement officers with time and distance, which can reduce the likelihood of physical injuries. With a range of up to 30 feet, pepper-spray balls are made of plastic that breaks on impact to release a chemical irritant intended to stun or incapacitate somebody. Sometimes, they contain marking paint for identifying a suspect or a particular area. Pepper-spray balls are typically the same caliber as recreational paintballs.

 A detention officer who was on duty but asked to remain anonymous stated to AlamogordoTownNews.org that the incident started “after we issued Pedro Felicia a write up for threatening medical staff.”

The Otero County Detention Center has been under heightened scrutiny about protection of health care staff as recent reports surfaced of allegations by staff of not providing adequate protection to the health care providers. 

In response to an IPRA submitted in early April concerning staffing levels the Detention Center provided us with the following information; ”that eight officers are assigned to each shift (days and nights) with one supervising officer to seven floor officers. The medical staff on the day shift consists of two registered/certified nurses and/or paramedics as well as the Health Service Administrator and Director of Nursing who are also registered nurses (four medical employees total). The medical staff on the night shift consists of two nurses/paramedics.

The facility also has a Certified Mental Health Coordinator and Counselor on site during the day. These Mental Health providers are on-call during non-working hours and can embolize at a seconds notice and are available to the detainees of OCDC 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if any crisis or situation may arise that requires their assistance or attention.”

A former medical care provider had approached our media company expressing concerns, mentioning that a number of “attempted suicides had occurred recently” on site, it was also reported to us that “when medical staff is making rounds to medicate inmates they are supposed to be accompanied by 2 officers for their safety and on many occasions they were forced to make rounds either unsupervised or with only 1 officer” verses the prescribed 2 to ensure safety.

As a part of our investigation we asked for stats on suicides that have occurred at the facility the last year to present. One suicide has been confirmed for this year at the detention center by hanging in March. Last year the detention center has 2 hangings, one suicide by overdose and one death by natural causes a total of 4 deaths at the facility.

The facility had struggled in past years with significant staffing shortages but they appear to be more stable than past but still a major concern.

The most recent incident and riot was triggered by a threat to a health care provider.

The detention officer told AlamogordoTownNews.org that staff went to pick up the mop bucket that was to be used for cleaning by the detainee in the housing unit and found that it was in Pedro Feliciano’s cell area. 

Pedro Feliciano told correctional officers to “come get the mop bucket,” in a tone they deemed as threatening and he appeared to be angry. Another correctional officer was in a “catwalk” behind the housing unit to shut off the water and observed “Fred Rebeles with a broken broom stick with a sharpened end and inmate Dominique Thomas with a black stick sharpened to a sharp point that could potentially be used as a weapon.”

Correctional officers observed the detainees tearing up mattresses and towels to cover their bodies which is a protective tactic to defuse an attack by security personnel by stun gun or taser weapons. 

Pedro Feliciano stated to a staff member that he had the intention to start a riot. 

Alamogordo Police Lieutenant Javier Sifuentes, who arrived after the riot started when called for reinforcements, said in his report, that Eric Amaya was locked in his cell but could hear him telling the other detainees he did not mean to lock down and the door shut behind him. 

Several officers according to the police reports claim to had seen Rebeles, Feliciano, Rodriguez and Espinoza with weapons sharpened to a point and were convinced of their intent to use them. The reports allege that Anthony Rodriguez was “vocal in his threats to stab any officers in the neck if they entered the housing unit.

Backup Officers yelled to the inmates to walk down the stairs with their hands up and to lay down on the floor. 

Officers could hear the inmates yelling that were not laying on the ground by 1 am on Wednesday the facility was back under control of officials and the 8 individuals responsible for the uprising were arrested and sent to an alternative facility.

Pedro Feliciano, Fred Rebeles, Eric Amaya, Jaime Espinoza, Anthony Rodriguez, David Torres and Dominique Thomas, each have enhanced charges now pending against them. Stay tuned for further details as they become available and charges are filed by the 12th Judicial District.

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