Suspected DUI driver coughed on officers, nurses, said he had COVID-19

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A Utah man suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol reportedly coughed on nurses and officers, claiming to have COVID-19 while they were trying to get his blood sample. (Photo: KUTV)

A Utah man suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol reportedly coughed on nurses and officers, claiming to have COVID-19 while they were trying to get his blood sample.

Ricardo Roman Rodriguez, 33, was arrested in Millard County early Sunday morning on 12 various charges, an affidavit of probable cause states.

Officers responded to an area near a local cemetery after a vehicle had driven off the road, crashed into a fence, and stopped 100 yards away. A 2009 white Dodge Journey with a temporary license plate was seen in the sagebrush.

When the officer approached the vehicle, Rodriguez was seen in the driver's seat and was passed out. The officer reported smelling the strong odor of alcohol coming from Rodriquez's person.

While checking his pulse and breathing, Rodriquez began to wake up and slurred the words, "Shut the f*** up" at the officer. Once he was fully awake, the officer asked Rodriquez if he had been drinking. The driver laughed and responded, "F*** yeah" and "I f***** up," the affidavit states.

After the officer convinced Rodriquez to get out of the vehicle, he reportedly became violent, screaming profanities and fighting first responders at the scene. An altercation ensued and an officer was shoved through the large sagebrush.

After Rodriquez was put in restraints, he was taken to the patrol vehicle where he, again, began to fight and refused officers' commands.

"Once in the vehicle, he began slamming the leg restraints we had to use to restrain him due to the size of his wrists against the window attempting to break it," the affidavit states. "When we opened the door to try to get him under control again, he attempted to push his legs out of the vehicle refusing to follow commands and began screaming and fighting again resulting [a deputy] having to drive stun him in the thigh with his taser twice to get him to put his legs back in the vehicle and comply."

Rodriquez was transported to the Fillmore Community Hospital where he declined to submit a blood sample. A warrant was issued to obtain his blood work. The affidavit states he continued to refuse the test by pulling away abruptly and trying to stand up when the nurse would try to insert the needle.

Officers warned Rodriquez that he would face charges for not complying with the request.

Two more attempts were tried to draw his blood but were stopped for the safety of the nurses after he reportedly continued to act aggressively and yell profanities, police say. Only a small amount of blood was drawn in one of the two blood vials.

Police say Rodriquez reportedly said he had COVID-19 and began "intentionally coughing" in the faces of the nurses, officers, and other people nearby.

As he was being escorted out of the hospital, Rodriquez began to fight officers again and attempted to head-butt an off-duty deputy. Once he was at the jail, Rodriquez also attempted to kick a deputy as he was being escorted to the booking area, the affidavit states.

Rodriquez was booked into jail on the following charges: DUI, a class B misdemeanor; assault of a peace officer, class A misdemeanor; assault of violence knowing a person is a peace officer, class A misdemeanor; assault by prisoner, third-degree felony; interfering with an arresting officer, a class B misdemeanor; disorderly conduct, class C misdemeanor; failure to operate within a single lane, an infraction; two count s of assault on a peace officer in uniform, a class A misdemeanor; refusal of chemical test, a class B misdemeanor; assault on a health care provider, a third-degree felony; and aggravated assault by a prisoner, a second-degree felony.

Individuals charged in complaints are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.