Richard Nino doesn’t believe his attacker should ever have been released.
“I think it’s negligence,” he said. “I think it’s ridiculous.”
On May 13, a random stranger ran up to Nino on the sidewalk, tried reaching into his pockets and punched him. The blow left Nino with a multiple fractures in his nose, four stitches and a broken eye socket.
The injuries required surgery – a metal plate permanently inserted into Nino’s cheek to hold the bone together.
The man who’s accused of the attack: Gabriel Coronado.
Coronado is a 21-year-old with two previous felony convictions already on his record. Nino thought after he watched police take Coronado away in handcuffs, everything was over.
Exactly one week later, a person from the victim services unit called Nino. It was late, about 11 p.m., he said.
“They said he’s getting released in the next hour,” Nino said. “They said the Phoenix Police Department didn’t file the paperwork in time. Something along those lines, and that there was also an error with how they filled it out.”
Even more disturbing, Coronado’s assault on Nino wasn’t his only crime of the night, according to a police report. While waiting in a holding cell at a Phoenix police station after his arrest, Coronado attacked another detainee, “kicking him in the head 10 to 15 times.”
But despite two violent assaults – one while in police custody -- Coronado walked out of jail without charges.
Four days later, he would attack someone else, records show.
On May 24, Coronado tried carjacking a woman in a Wal-Mart parking lot, court records show. Using a folding knife, he stabbed his victim six times. ABC15's attempts to reach the stabbing victim were unsuccessful.
Coronado was arrested again. This time, he was held without bond.
***Read official court records detailing both arrests at the end of the story***
WHY WAS HE SET FREE?
Phoenix Police Department officials strongly denied that Coronado’s release was because paperwork wasn’t filed in time.
It’s been a problem for the department before. ABC15 has reported on four other felony cases in which the necessary charging paperwork wasn’t filed before the deadline.
Sources say the issues stem from Phoenix Police’s $30 million new record-keeping system. That’s something department officials have repeatedly refuted.
A spokesperson told ABC15 Coronado was released because prosecutors “furthered” the case.
“It is very unfortunate the suspect committed another crime while out but furthers have been something we have always had to deal with,” Sgt. Trent Crump wrote to ABC15 in an email.
When a case is furthered, it means prosecutors want investigators to obtain additional information. In Nino’s case, that meant getting medical records and conducting more interviews, police said.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office also told ABC15 that they furthered the case on May 19 – a day before Coronado’s release -- but would not confirm the reason why.
According to former prosecutors contacted by ABC15, it appears officials still could have held Coronado without bond on probation violations for longer.
Coronado has two previous felony convictions, court record show.
One conviction was in 2014 after he was arrested for disorderly conduct. Another was last year, when he was arrested for drug possession.
On May 13, Coronado was still on probation for both convictions.
Court record show, the arrest would have violated the terms of his probation and a hearing was scheduled for May 20.
At the hearing, since charges were never officially filed, a judge set Coronado free.
A VICTIM WAITS FOR ANSWERS
Richard Nino contacted ABC15 on Friday, June 3, after seeing a report about Coronado’s arrest in the stabbing incident.
In an interview that day, Nino said he wanted help finding out what was happening with his case and why the man suspected of assaulting him was allowed to walk free.
Despite prosecutors’ instructions to Phoenix Police to get more information, Nino said he hadn’t heard from Phoenix Police for nearly two weeks.
“No. Not at all,” he said. “And I have been trying to get in touch with them.”
On the day he was assaulted, officers gave Nino a victims’ rights pamphlet. The back cover is stained with Nino’s blood.
On the front cover, there’s a phone number to call to get information about the case. But Nino said that number leads to an automated line. It practically “impossible” to get the information you need, he said.
On Monday, ABC15 contacted Phoenix police about Coronado’s arrest, release and new arrest. The next day, the department sent a detective to meet with Nino and get new information.
By Tuesday, it had been 20 days since prosecutors asked for more information and 15 days since Coronado was accused of stabbing another victim.
“I just want him to be charged,” Nino said. “I want them to fix whatever filing issues they have so this doesn’t happen to anybody again.”
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at email@example.com.
Gabriel Coronado May 13 Arrest by Dave Biscobing