A man who punched a San Diego police officer in the face after the officer and his partner ordered him to stop walking in the middle of the street near a rally at Chicano Park was convicted Friday of assault and other charges.
Jurors found 39-year-old Frederick Jefferson of San Diego guilty of felony assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, resisting an executive officer and a misdemeanor count of resisting an officer after one day of deliberations.
The defendant faces about nine years in state prison when he is sentenced Aug. 31, said Deputy District Attorney Michael Reilly.
Reilly told the jury that Jefferson “wanted to play by his own rules” when Officers Matthew Ruggiero and Justin Tennebaum tried to get him to walk on the sidewalk on Logan Avenue the morning of Feb. 3, close to where two rival groups were rallying in the park.
The prosecutor said the officers had every right to stop and enforce traffic laws against jaywalking and to use force when Jefferson reacted violently to their requests to move onto the sidewalk.
“Get out of the street,” one of the officers said to Jefferson. “C’mon dude, stop! You’re gonna get a ticket, or go to jail!”
The prosecutor said Jefferson reacted suddenly and violently when the officers got out of their patrol car and tried to grab the defendant’s arms and move him out of the street.
“Don’t you put your hands on me,” Jefferson is heard saying on one of the officer’s body-worn cameras.
Reilly said Ruggiero pulled out his police baton but didn’t use it on Jefferson until the defendant started swinging at him.
Ruggiero was hit in the face two or three times and suffered a fractured nose and cheek bone.
Jefferson struggled with at least five other officers before being taken to the ground and handcuffed.
The defendant testified that he was minding his own business, walking toward what he thought was a parade, when the officers grabbed his arms. Jefferson told the jury he acted in self-defense.
— City News Service
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