Jury finds local man guilty of resisting arrest during incident at Avon restaurant
Manuel Figueroa sentenced to suspended detention after altercation with Avon Police
Longtime valley resident Manuel Figueroa defended himself in a jury trial In Eagle County Court on Thursday over charges stemming from an April encounter with Avon Police. The jury found Figueroa guilty of three charges: obstructing a peace officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Deputy district attorneys Lydia Wandmacher and Andrea Middleton prosecuted the case. Avon Police Officer Andy Sandoval acted as the prosecution’s advisory witness.
Last April, Avon Police officers, including Sandoval, responded to an incident at Agave, a restaurant and nightclub. Figueroa reportedly got into an altercation with a bartender and refused to leave when asked, which led to a call to the police.
Wandmacher explained in court that Sandoval was the first officer to engage with Figueroa.
“When they responded, he did not go willingly,” Wandmacher said. “They attempted to place a hand and tell him, ‘Let’s go,’ and he did not.”
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Figueroa, according to the prosecution, resisted arrest and remained combative with officers on duty.
“His attitude and demeanor was confrontational,” Wandmacher said. “He was pushing the officers away, pulling himself away from them.”
Figueroa, who pled not guilty to the charges of obstructing a peace officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, claimed Sandoval used excessive force that evening. Figueroa told the jury that he was going through a tough time when the incident occurred. He said he had been drinking that night and explained that his actions were in response to what he described as a not-so-friendly greeting by Sandoval.
“At the time, I don’t think it was needed or necessary for him to put his hands on me,” Figueroa said.
In his closing statement on Thursday, Figueroa said that he would have liked to have seen the responding officers de-escalate the situation with their voices rather than physical force.
The prosecution argued that Sandoval was just doing his job as a peace officer.
“The officers knew going into this incident that the defendant had been in some sort of altercation with the bartender, that they had asked him to leave, that he was refusing to leave,” Wandmacher said. “That’s what they knew going into this. So, when they saw the defendant and he walks up and he’s being sarcastic and they place a hand to indicate, ‘Let’s go toward the door,’ and he immediately escalates it. Swats the hand off, shouts and the behavior keeps ramping up from there.”
The jury, after deliberations, found Figueroa guilty of all three charges.
For the charge of obstructing a peace officer, Judge Inga Causey represented the court in sentencing Figueroa to 10 days in jail and a $150 fine plus court costs. That time, however, was suspended on the condition that Figueroa remains out of trouble for a 12-month period and refrains from consuming or possessing alcohol or illegal drugs.
“I have a feeling that is what’s fueling some of these behaviors,” Causey said. “If you can work on that, it may make a big difference for you.”
For resisting arrest, the court sentenced Figueroa to an additional 10 days in jail, which were suspended under the same terms and conditions as his first 10-day sentence. In addition, the court sentenced Figueroa to another $150 fine plus court costs.
Figueroa was also sentenced to another $150 fine plus court costs for the disorderly conduct charge.