American Falls pair charged with riot damage in 2021 bar fight - East Idaho News
Crime Watch

American Falls pair charged with riot damage in 2021 bar fight

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POCATELLO — A man and woman police say caused a fight that left several injured and a local bar damaged face felony charges.

Miguel Aleijandro Cortes, 32, and Christina Marie Cortes, 31, both of American Falls, have each been charged with one count of riot damage to public or private property, court records show. Additionally, Miguel has been charged with one felony count of aggravated battery.

July 29, 2021

Pocatello Police responded to reports of a fight at a bar on North 3rd Avenue around 7:35 p.m., according to an affidavit of probable cause. Upon arrival, officers spoke with the victims, who said that four suspects had just left the scene in a minivan with license plates beginning “2P.”

Police reports show that one of the victims was holding the left side of his face and that his left eye was swollen “completely shut.”

A second victim said that one of the suspects had “pulled out a bunch of her hair.” The female victim then pointed to “several clumps” of her hair on the ground, the affidavit says.

After confirming there to be no active threat, officers called for EMTs to enter the bar and help the victims. The female victim said she was having trouble breathing and “collapsed to the ground” but declined ambulance transport to the hospital. The male victim also declined ambulance transport.

While the victims were receiving medical care, officers spoke with a witness, who provided descriptions of the two males and two females responsible for the attacks.

The witness said that the male victim, an employee at the bar, had cut off the suspects, and that they became upset. One of the female suspects then began to fight with two women at the bar. The affidavit does not indicate whether the two women were employees or patrons.

When the male victim attempted to break up the fight, the two male suspects attacked him. The witness said that the larger of the men held the victim down while the other man stood over him and punched him in the face repeatedly.

While the men were attacking the victim, one of the two female suspects who were now fighting threw a beer bottle at another woman but missed. The bottle instead broke a window, according to the affidavit.

The female suspects continued picking up and throwing items — including glasses, bottles and one of the male victim’s shoes — at others in the bar.

All four suspects fled when one of the witnesses called 911.

Officers obtained surveillance footage of the incident from the bar’s owner and put out an attempt to identify to other officers and agencies.

After collecting statements and leaving the bar, officers were informed that during the fight, the suspects took two cell phones off the bar. One of those phones was located, using the Find My Phone app, near the intersection of Bridger and Main Streets in Downtown Pocatello.

Officers found the phone, which they believed to have been thrown from a vehicle. They sent it to the evidence lab to see if fingerprints could be collected.

Pocatello officers contacted Power County sheriff’s deputies for help in finding the suspects. Deputies identified Miguel, Christina and a second woman and tried to speak with the trio. However, according to the affidavit, all three refused to speak about the incident.

Using surveillance footage from the bar, officers matched the suspect vehicle to a van owned by Christina, the affidavit says.

Officers then used the footage to match Miguel and Christina to the incident.

Christina, the affidavit says, went behind the bar during the right to retrieve her credit card, which was being held by the bartender for her open tab. While she was behind the bar, officers said, she was who threw the beer bottle and drinking glasses.

Christina was also seen leaving the bar with multiple cell phones. According to the affidavit, she dropped one of the phones while walking out of the bar and told Miguel to retrieve it.

July 31, 2021

Officers interviewed Christina Miguel. Neither would identify the fourth person involved in the incident, saying only that they knew him by the name “Carlos.”

Christina told officers that Carlos and the other woman she was with were in a fight with each other, and that she threw a beer bottle at Carlos. She said, in throwing the bottle at Carlos, she started a fight between the other woman and one of the victims. And after first trying to de-escalate the situation, she got involved.

Officers informed Christina that they saw surveillance of the incident and that she was not being honest about what happened. They said that they saw her throw a bottle at the victims, and she responded by saying she did not remember that.

The officers then told Christina that a stolen cell phone from the incident had been pinged on the Find My Phone app near her home. Christina told officers she would be on the look out for the phone, according to the affidavit. She said that she believed one of the two suspects who had not been confirmed were the ones who took the phone.

Miguel provided a similar statement, saying he was not involved in the fight other than trying to break up the male victim and the other male suspect. Like Christina, Miguel said he did not know anything about the stolen cell phones and that he would be on the look out for them.

Following the interview, officers informed both Christina and Miguel that they had been trespassed from the bar and were not longer welcomed there. Christina was cited for “theft of service” for taking her credit card without paying her tab. According to the affidavit, she was apologetic and asked officers to pass her apologies along to the staff at the bar.

What now?

The affidavit does not describe the continued investigation, but both Christina and Miguel were arrested on May 7, 2024.

Miguel was released after posting a $5,000 bond, while Christina was released on her own recognizance.

Though Miguel and Christina been charged with these crimes, it does not necessarily mean they committed them. Everyone is presumed innocent until they are proven guilty.

If they are found guilty, Miguel would face up to 20 years in prison, while Christina would face up to five.