Home News Local News Man accused of stealing police car pleads not guilty

Man accused of stealing police car pleads not guilty

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Months after allegedly stealing a police vehicle and leading law enforcement in two counties on a high-speed chase, a Roswell man has pleaded not guilty to multiple criminal counts in connection with the incident.

The plea was entered during an arraignment Monday conducted through Google Meet, where a reading of charges was waived and Luis Gauna, 34, pleaded not guilty to one count each of aggravated battery upon a peace officer, deadly weapon; aggravated assault on a peace officer, deadly weapon; unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer, court documents state.

He also faces charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, and disarming a peace officer, removing firearm or weapon, in a separate case in Eddy County related to the same incident. Gauna is set to be arraigned on those charges Aug. 24 in 5th Judicial District in Carlsbad.

One Roswell police officer, a Chaves County deputy, a female motorist and Gauna all sustained injuries during the June 4 alleged assault of a police officer that later led to a high-speed chase.

The pursuit began when a Roswell police officer in a marked unit got out of his vehicle and approached Gauna in the area of South Virginia Avenue and East Albuquerque Street.

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Gauna, who at the time was riding a bicycle, responded by allegedly taking three tennis ball-sized stones from his pocket and striking the officer with them.

While the officer was preparing to pull out his sidearm, Gauna purportedly jumped into the police unit and sped away, court documents state.

Officers from the RPD, New Mexico State Police and deputies from the Chaves and Eddy County sheriff’s offices eventually became involved in a pursuit with the stolen vehicle, as Gauna allegedly drove at high speeds and into oncoming traffic to avoid tire deflation devices that were deployed in an attempt to immobilize the stolen unit.

Gauna was eventually apprehended when he allegedly crashed head-on into an oncoming pickup truck while traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 285 in a northbound lane. Gauna then purportedly got into the pickup and climbed onto the lap of its female driver.

When New Mexico State Police officers arrived, court documents state Gauna allegedly grabbed the taser of an officer who was trying to pull him from the pickup.

Gauna was eventually subdued by the officers, placed in handcuffs and transported to a medical facility in El Paso to receive treatment for injuries.

Gauna remains detained without bail pending trial after a judge last month granted a motion by the office of the District Attorney in the 5th Judicial District to hold him in pre-trial detention.

Jury trials on the current charges have been tentatively scheduled in both cases, according to court records — one for Jan. 5 in Eddy County and another for Jan. 19 in Chaves County.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.