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Man pleads not guilty to assault charges

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Allegedly tried to ram police vehicles with front-end loader

Flabio Herrera (Submitted Photo)

A Dexter man accused of trying to hit police vehicles with a piece of construction equipment during an encounter last month has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges against him.

Court records state Flabio Herrera, 26, entered a plea of not guilty to two counts of aggravated assault upon a peace officer, deadly weapon, when he appeared at his arraignment Monday in New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District Court in Chaves County. Judge Jared Kallunki scheduled a jury trial in the matter for Feb. 1.

Herrera was arrested on the evening of Aug. 15 after Dexter and Hagerman police responded to a call at 7:53 p.m. of a front-end loader that was driving recklessly and damaging property in the area of Eagles Nest and Vista Largo roads in Dexter.

When a Hagerman officer approached the front-end loader in his vehicle, court records state, the front-end loader reportedly came out of the field with its lights on and bucket raised. The officer responded by activating the lights on his marked vehicle. The loader did not stop and moved toward the police vehicle at full speed, forcing the officer to turn the vehicle into a field to avoid being struck.

An officer with the Dexter Police Department then arrived after hearing about the incident. While the officer was driving behind the front-end loader, the machine turned around and allegedly began moving toward the officer.

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The front-end loader, according to court documents, then attempted to sideswipe the Dexter officer’s unit, forcing the officer to exit the police vehicle and run to the side of the road as the machine continued to advance.

When the loader reportedly turned and again began to move toward the Dexter officer, the officer fired one shot that hit the loader.

Herrera allegedly emerged from the loader and tried to flee on foot onto a property, but a locked gate thwarted his escape and he was taken into custody.

Herrera, who was not injured, is now out on $75,000 bond, cash or surety, while awaiting trial on the charges.

Court records state Herrera is set to go to trial October 13 on charges in two separate cases. In one case, Herrera is charged with trafficking a controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute, methamphetamine. In the other, he is charged with armed robbery; conspiracy to commit armed robbery; and transportation or possession of a firearm or destructive device by a felon.

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

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