An Oregon police officer is in isolation after a suspect who knew he was infected with coronavirus spit and coughed on the officer during an arrest early Sunday.
The Tigard Police Department, which is about 15 minutes outside Portland, thinks the suspect intentionally tried to infect the officer during the arrest, according to a news release from police. Officers encountered Miguel Hernandez-Cuesta, 24, after responding to a report that a man, who appeared drunk, was asleep at a McDonalds drive-thru.
Hernandez-Cuesta was found passed out in the driver’s seat, partially hanging out of the driver’s side door which was slightly ajar, the release said. When officers asked him to turn off the car, Hernandez-Cuesta allegedly rolled the car forward and nearly hit a patrol car.
The officers then attempted to arrest the man on suspicion driving under the influence of intoxicants and driving while suspended.
“In the course of the arrest, while Tigard Police officers were searching the man for weapons or dangerous items, he began coughing profusely and stated he had COVID-19,” the department release stated. “An officer asked him to stop coughing on them, but he turned his face toward the officers and proceeded to cough and spit on one of their faces while standing less than a foot away.”
Jail staff confirmed that Hernandez-Cuesta was positive for the coronavirus, and he was additionally booked with felony aggravated harassment.
“Officers who are victims during the course and scope of their duties have the same rights as any other community members, and we intend to assist the Washington County District Attorney’s office with any future prosecution for this intentional and unwarranted exposure beyond our routine day-to-day duties,” the department release stated.
Inmate records show Hernandez-Cuesta was released from Washington County Jail on Sunday.
NBC News was unable to find contact information for Hernandez-Cuesta using public records. An email to an attorney who defended Hernandez-Cuesta in a 2019 DUI conviction said she no longer represents him.