The man who punched a San Diego Police Department officer in the face during an altercation was sentenced to prison Friday.
A jury convicted Frederick Jefferson, 39, in early August of one count of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and two counts of resisting an executive officer. Jefferson learned on Friday he’ll be spending the next seven years of his life in prison.
The dramatic altercation was recorded by another officer’s body-worn camera.
The video shows officers confronting Jefferson as he walks down the middle of Logan Avenue, about a block away from a tense protest underway at Chicano Park.
The video was paused and restarted by attorneys when it was played in open court. We have pieced together several segments of the video so that it plays in real time
Officers instructed Jefferson to get on the sidewalk, and when he refused they warned him that he could be ticketed.
Next, one of the officers reached out to grab Jefferson, and that was when the physical confrontation started.
Jefferson’s shirt was ripped as he threw several punches, but missed. At that point, Officer Matthew Ruggiero used his baton to strike at Jefferson who then connected with a punch to Ruggiero’s face.
With the help at least four more officers, Ruggiero was able to wrestle Jefferson to the ground. In the closing seconds of the video, blood spatter can be seen pooling on the concrete near Jefferson’s head, but SDPD said the blood belonged to Ruggiero.
Ruggiero suffered a broken nose, jaw and other facial fractures, according to the department.
At a preliminary hearing in April, Jefferson showed no reaction when the video was played. His public defense attorney argued that Jefferson was only reacting to the officers’ attempt to grab him.
The officer whose body cam video was shown in court, said he was concerned because Jefferson was wearing clothing that matched colors worn by one of the nearby protest groups known to be violent.
“He had not been patted down, he hadn’t been checked for weapons, we had previously found weapons on other members attending the protest. So my safety and officer Ruggiero’s safety was the primary concern at this point,” the officer said.
Officer Ruggiero told the judge Friday that while his physical damage is healed, the emotional wounds remain.
“My 7-year-old girl doesn’t need to know the ugly side of police work,” he said. “But my daughter does now because Frederick Jefferson forced it upon her. Her eyes well up with tears when I leave for work when they did not before and a therapist is helping her work through the trauma she’s experienced.”
Ruggiero has since returned to work.
Jefferson was allowed the opportunity to address the court and asked the judge if he could read verses from the bible.
“You’ve read me some passages which I think you’rere still struggling to understand on your part,” the judge told Jefferson after. “It is one thing to read it. It’s another to live by it.”
Source: NBC San Diego