O.C. Deputy Accused of Pepper-Spraying Teen’s Pizza
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KTLA) — An arraignment was continued on Monday for an Orange County sheriff’s deputy accused of pepper-spraying a teen’s pizza during a traffic stop.
Juan Tavera, 30, a six-year veteran of the department, is charged with one misdemeanor count of assault or battery by a public officer.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail.
He was due back in court next on Aug. 23.
The alleged crime happened during a routine traffic stop on Sept. 8, 2012, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office.
An unidentified 19-year-old man was pulled over by a different officer for a traffic violation in Laguna Hills.
After Tavera arrived on scene, he spotted a pizza on the backseat of the teen’s car and pepper-sprayed it without his knowledge, prosecutors said.
The victim later returned home and shared the pizza with four friends, causing all five to become sick.
The teen notified the sheriff’s department after becoming suspicious of his earlier encounter with Tavera, authorities said.
Sheriff’s officials investigated the case and then forwarded it to district attorney for review.