Judge sets $1M bond after cop hurt in raid

Robert Nelson

A Grand Junction man with a history of fighting police officers was ordered jailed on $1 million bond after he allegedly injured a Drug Task Force officer during a methamphetamine raid Wednesday night.

The officer had to have knee surgery at a local hospital.

Robert A. Nelson, 39, 555 28 1/2 Road, No. 21, said little during a first court appearance Thursday, but he drew the ire of a visibly angry County Court Judge Craig Henderson. The judge said he admired the “restraint” of the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office in asking that bond be set in Nelson’s case at “only” $500,000.

“I don’t think in my time as a judge I’ve seen such a poster child for a very high bond,” Henderson said before hiking bond above the DA’s request.

Nelson was ordered to have no contact with the injured Task Force officer, who, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein, was in surgery Thursday afternoon after suffering a torn tendon in his knee during a brawl with Nelson at 585 25 1/2 Road, space 147. The Task Force was at the home to execute a search warrant as part of a meth investigation.

An arrest affidavit said Nelson was the suspected driver of a sport utility vehicle that eluded a Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputy at high speeds. That happened just before officers entered the 25 1/2 Road residence.

Calvin Carr, 31, who lives at the 25 1/2 Road property, was arrested there after officers found less than two grams of meth in Carr’s bedroom, the affidavit said.

While officers were inside the home, Cristal Giuffrida, 30, 2733 B Road, arrived and was arrested on suspicion of possession of two baggies of meth, the affidavit said. Giuffrida brought her two young children to the home, the affidavit said.

A second apparent guest, Jeffery Buckingham, 52, 581 29 Road, showed up and was greeted and arrested by officers on suspicion of possessing less than four grams of cocaine, the affidavit said.

Carr, meanwhile, took a phone call from Nelson, who allegedly agreed to come over to the home and deliver an unspecified amount of meth.

Nelson was greeted at the front door by Task Force officers, who displayed their law enforcement badges. Nelson allegedly tried to flee, and a fight ensued. One officer’s knee was injured as Nelson was taken to the ground, the affidavit said. The document does not further describe the encounter.

It took four officers to subdue Nelson and place him in handcuffs.

“Even after being handcuffed Robert Nelson was still attempting to get up off the ground,” the affidavit said.

Officers found approximately two grams of suspected meth and a smoking pipe nearby, the affidavit said.

According to court records, Nelson has four prior convictions for assault on a peace officer between 2003 and 2007, all in New Mexico. Nelson has seven prior felony convictions and 12 misdemeanor convictions, including resisting arrest, vehicular eluding, and possession and distribution of a controlled substance, according to the affidavit and other court records.

Nelson also is serving probation, stemming from a drug case in Lake County, and has an unrelated felony drug case pending in Mesa County, the affidavit said.

Rubinstein told the judge Thursday habitual criminal charges, carrying a potential life sentence upon conviction, likely will be filed in Nelson’s case. The prosecutor told the judge Nelson allegedly communicated threats against Carr on Thursday while they were in custody at the Mesa County Jail.

Nelson is being held on suspicion of possession and distribution of a controlled substance, second-degree assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest, vehicular eluding, reckless driving, tampering with physical evidence, possession of drug paraphernalia and special-offender charges.


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