A SLO County Jail inmate with an alleged history of violence is facing a criminal charge after authorities said he attacked a sheriff’s deputy with urine.
The SLO County District Attorney’s Office charged the man, identified in court documents as Montoya Nichols, 24, with a felony charge of battery by gassing in connection with the attack, which took place Aug. 16, according to a criminal complaint.
Deputies were getting ready to move Nichols from his cell for a shower when the incident occurred according to Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla.
“Without provocation when the food slot door was opened to handcuff Nichols, he tossed a milk carton containing urine and other substances at the deputy,” Cipolla wrote and an email response to questions from New Times.
The liquid hit the employee, identified as a senior correctional deputy, in the face and chest. Cipolla said Nichols didn’t explain why he threw the carton.
The charge of battery by “gassing” specifically relates to these types of attacks on peace officers and is punishable by between two and four years in prison. The law also lays out the steps law enforcement agencies must take when an incident occurs. According to the law, detention centers are required to collect and test the fluids and substances involved in the attack. The facility’s chief medical officer is also able to order the offending inmate be tested for hepatitis and tuberculosis and is required to provide the results of those tests to the employee or officer who was exposed.
This isn’t the first time Nichols has been accused of violently attacking others. According to reports from the SLO Tribune, Nichols allegedly assaulted a patient and struck a hospital officer in the face multiple times at the Atascadero State Hospital in November of 2014. He was booked in jail on charges of battery, assault, and resisting arrest charges.
According to court records, a SLO County Superior Court judge ordered a mental health evaluation for Nichols in connection with the new charges. His case is scheduled for a hearing Sept. 9.
Nichols remains in custody in SLO County Jail. His total bond is set at $70,000, according to online jail records.