Veteran who fought with police sentenced to prison

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COEUR d’ALENE — A 27-year-old combat veteran from Hayden who told the court he was self-medicating with methamphetamine last autumn before fighting Coeur d’Alene police downtown, will serve up to a year in a prison rehabilitation program.

Kenneth B. Caldero was sentenced Jan. 2 in Coeur d’Alene’s First District Court to serve as many as four years in prison for one count of burglary and one count of grand theft, and up to five years for battering a police officer.

District Judge John T. Mitchell retained jurisdiction, ordering that Caldero receive chemical dependency treatment while in prison. Once Caldero returns to court within a year, Mitchell, depending on Caldero’s prison report card, can send the defendant back to prison to serve his time, or place him on probation.

Prior to his sentence last week, Caldero had been in jail for 104 days since his arrest in September when he fled police by jumping into Lake Coeur d’Alene.

According to a police report, Caldero defied being shot several times by police using Tasers. He had engaged officers in hand-to-hand combat and attempted to elude police by swimming from Tubbs Hill to a nearby dock.

When police encountered Caldero, Sept. 21, he was behind the wheel of a stolen Mercedes Benz near the intersection of 11th Street and Lakeshore Drive on the east side of Tubbs Hill.

Caldero, who had been a Scout Sniper in Afghanistan, wore two empty knife sheaths on his belt. He became upset and, with clenched fists, approached Coeur d’Alene police officers yelling at them.

Police used a Taser to knock Caldero to the ground, but he pulled out the probes and kept coming. He attacked another officer, who also shot Caldero with a Taser.

“Caldero fell to the ground but was able to strip the wires with ease,” police officer Jason Wiedebush wrote.

The suspect punched the officer in the face, and after exchanging blows, Caldero was shot in the face with pepper spray. He fled to Tubbs Hill, where he was again Tasered and doused with pepper spray.

“I deployed a steady stream of OC spray into his face,” Wiedebush wrote. “This had no effect on him.”

Caldero escaped by jumping into Lake Coeur d’Alene and swimming to a nearby dock, where he was Tasered for the seventh time and finally taken into custody.

After being arrested, Caldero told the court that he had a job at Les Schwab Tire which paid enough to hire an attorney, but, “After this, I’m pretty certain I’ve been terminated.”

He was assigned a public defender.

At last week’s hearing, Caldero said he was on a series of medications prescribed by the VA, but quit taking them weeks before the incident, relying instead on methamphetamine to “suppress my dreams.”

In the event he was given the chance, Caldero told the court he would comply with the terms of probation.

“I take full responsibility for my actions,” he said. “I was discharged honorably.”

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