Portales man dies after June 5 beating
One teen arrested; police seeking a second juvenile.
Last updated 6/15/2022 at 3:03pm
A Portales man police say was beaten by juveniles on June 5 died from his injuries on Tuesday, the victim's sister said.
District Attorney Brian Stover also confirmed the passing of James Roper, 37.
Court records obtained Monday through the DA’s office show Roper was beaten after a confrontation with five juveniles behind a convenience store on West Second Street in Portales. The incident began with a discussion involving a cell phone, records show.
Records show one juvenile was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. He is being held in a juvenile facility in Bernalillo County. Stover said a warrant has been issued for the arrest of a second juvenile involved in the incident, but he has not been located. Stover said Tuesday charges against the teens may be amended now that Roper has died. He said a decision on updated charges will be made Wednesday.
Names of the juveniles were redacted in the Statement of Probable Cause for arrest released Monday by Stover following a request from The Eastern New Mexico News.
According to the report:
Roper was “conversing with one of the juveniles (name redacted) and attempted to take (name redacted) a cell phone from his person,” the juveniles told police.
The juveniles also alleged in the report that Roper pushed one of the youth and began to “speed walk away.”
The juveniles followed Roper, words were exchanged and one of the boys punched Roper at least twice “which resulted in Mr. Roper falling to the ground,” records show.
The boy who hit Roper then began to “kick Mr. Roper multiple times, in the head while Mr. Roper was on the ground,” the report shows.
The juveniles, whose ages are estimated between 15 and 17, then ran away and someone called for an ambulance. Roper was unconscious when medical personnel arrived about 8 p.m. on June 5.
Police interviewed four juveniles with their parents present, the record shows.
Stover said investigators believe three juveniles may have struck Roper during the incident, but there are claims of self-defense.
Roper family members have declined comment other than to report his passing to The News in a text message Tuesday afternoon.