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2 Moorhead officers taken to emergency room after man claiming to be HIV positive spits on them

Enrique Kenneth Lopez

MOORHEAD – Two city police officers responding to a fight Aug. 12 at a northside park ended up in the emergency room after one of the combatants, alleged to be HIV positive, responded to their presence by repeatedly spitting blood on them.

According to a search warrant filed Aug. 12 in Clay County District Court, Moorhead police were called to Davy Memorial Park, 210 8th St. N., after receiving a report about a fight between some very drunk people.

Officers had arrived and were speaking with some of the people when one of the officers, Brandon Desautel, asked for help in dealing with a man who was bleeding from the nose and mouth and spitting out blood.

Desautel told the man, Enrique Kenneth Lopez, 31, to stop spitting. Lopez looked up at the officer and allegedly tried to spit on him. That’s when dispatchers informed the officer they had information that Lopez was HIV positive, according to the search warrant.

With blood and spit on his arm and uniform, Desautel backed away, and the remaining officers put a spit hood on Lopez, who spit inside the hood while kicking, thrashing and struggling against officers as they put him in the back of a squad car, the search warrant says.

Lopez managed to spit at another officer during his struggle, getting blood on the officer’s face.

Lopez refused medical attention from paramedics at the scene and was taken to the jail, then to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo to have his blood drawn and tested, according to the search warrant.

Both officers were taken to a nearby hospital emergency room to be tested for the presence of the blood-borne pathogen.

Moorhead police Lt. Tory Jacobson said suspects often use the threat of spraying officers with HIV-positive bodily fluids when they’re arrested, but he’s not sure if any of them have turned out to be HIV positive when they’re tested.

“I’ve had contact with people and there’s always that concern,” Jacobson said. “And there’s always a certain number of people that will falsely identify themselves. It’s another way of trying to be more of a pain, in the moment.”

Jacobson said officers have gloves and spit masks with them when they respond to calls, and undergo blood-borne pathogen training.

He said it isn’t clear if Lopez managed to spit on the second officer before having the spit hood put on his head.

Lopez was charged Aug. 12 in Clay County District Court with two counts of fourth-degree assault by transferring bodily fluids, plus one count of obstructing the legal process, both felonies.

Jacobson said this is the second set of bodily fluid-related criminal charges filed against Lopez.

Lopez appeared Tuesday in Clay County District Court on one count of disorderly conduct and one count of obstruction of the legal process, both misdemeanors.

Those charges are related to a July 20 incident in which Lopez tried to urinate on a Moorhead police officer who found him about 7:30 p.m. lying along the river next to a bicycle while the officer was on patrol through Davies Memorial Park.

The officer, concerned Lopez was having a medical emergency, tried to intervene when Lopez exposed himself and tried to urinate in the officer’s direction, Jacobson said.

Lopez has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges.

Jacobson could not confirm the results of Lopez’s blood draw.

Lopez’s next court appearance is set for Aug. 25.