A dad who was baffled when an Oceanside police officer gave him a citation for not wearing a helmet inside a city skate park was found guilty Wednesday when he fought the ticket in traffic court.
“My son was fully geared and I was holding his hand in the skate park," said Steve Malfatto.
Malfatto says he was wearing sandals, didn't have a skateboard, and was simply holding his 5-year-old son's hand as he learned how to skate at the North River Road complex on Oct. 29.
He noticed Officer Truscott writing a group of teenagers citations for not wearing helmets and thought it would be a good chance to use the flat part of the park to continue teaching his son to skate without any other people around.
Malfatto says his son was equipped with a helmet, elbow pads, kneepads and wrist guards.
Officer Truscott promptly called him over as soon as he stepped into the park.
"So, we walk over and I'm thinking the cop is going to use my son as an example to these kids," said Malfatto.
Instead, he got a ticket, which later arrived in the mail as a $275 citation. Truscott said Malfatto was in violation of a city ordinance.
On Wednesday, the commissioner sided with the officer and gave Malfatto a guilty verdict. However he suspended the fee.
Malfatto says he is happy with not paying the fine and feels like the commissioner was trying to do everything in his power to let him off, but hopes officers in Oceanside will use more discretion when issuing citations.
"There is a difference between a responsible parent holding his son's hand and a 17-year-old boy skating in the park without a helmet," said Malfatto. “I think most police officers would understand that difference. I think all of them should.”
NBC San Diego asked the officer to comment as he left court, but he declined.