November 30, 2016
A Philadelphia man was charged Wednesday with aggravated assault and related offenses after he bit a pair of police officers as they attempted secure him with handcuffs. Just moments before, the man allegedly shouted "I have HIV," according to police.
The officers, whose identities were not released, were treated and released from Frankford Hospital. One officer sustained a bite on her left forearm; the other had a bite on his left hand.
Police said they cannot disclose whether the officers were tested for HIV while at Frankford Hospital. HIV is not transmitted via saliva, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the virus has been transmitted — in extremely rare cases — by mouthbite.
The defendant has been identified as Cesar Ortega. The officers observed Ortega exiting the passenger side of a 2004 Honda Accord — which lacked a license plate — parked on the sidewalk at 1200 E. Atlantic St. in the city's Harrowgate neighborhood at 1:36 a.m., police said.
After they stopped Ortega to question him about the ownership of the vehicle, he attempted to run.
A physical struggle ensued between the officers and Ortega, who police allege threw punches while shouting that he had HIV. He then allegedly bit each of the officers as they attempted to handcuff him, investigators said.
Police Chief Inspector Scott Small told reporters that Ortega "started punching, kicking and head-butting the officers," according to CBSPhilly. He "then managed to bite both officers in the hand and arm, breaking skin and drawing blood."
Small said Ortega has had previous run-ins with police for drug-related incidents.
Ortega, 32, of the 3300 block of Kensington Avenue in Harrowgate, was taken to Temple University Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries. The other charges he faces include resisting arrest, simple assault and making terroristic threats.
Staff writer John Kopp contributed to this report.