Man to Face Trial in Controversial Chokehold Case

Robert Branch, who videotaped part of the incident, claims the plain-clothes detective was driving an unmarked car and did not identify himself

A San Diego man who videotaped his confrontation with a plain-clothes San Diego County Sheriff's Detective was bound over for trial Thursday on charges that carry a maximum penalty of 5 years behind bars.

Robert Branch faces reckless driving, resisting arrest and attempting to pepper spray an officer charges following the altercation that happened in Del Cerro on May 4, 2015.

Prosecutors say Branch was speeding and driving erratically when he almost struck the detective’s car.

The detective, Paul Ward, testified that Branch wore a tactical vest, and was non-compliant during the traffic stop. Ward said he used a sort of chokehold commonly used by law enforcement to calm a suspect down.

Ward identified himself, showed his badge and asked for Branch's license and registration, prosecutors argued.

Branch argued the detective, who has since retired from the department, used excessive force in the traffic stop.

He videotaped the incident and shared it with the media. He also filed an excessive force lawsuit against the county, which is on hold until the allegations against him are resolved.

After several weeks of witness testimony and evidence, a San Diego judge ruled there was sufficient evidence to hold Branch on all charges.

An arraignment is scheduled for May 12.

If convicted of all charges, Branch could face a maximum penalty of 5 years, 90 days.

Contact Us