A man who punched a San Diego Police Department officer in the face during an altercation was ordered by a judge Friday to stand trial.
The dramatic altercation was recorded by another officer’s body-worn camera. The footage was played for a judge at Friday’s preliminary hearing.
The video shows officers confront Frederick Jefferson, 39, 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, you can see one of the officers reach out to grab Jefferson, and that's when the physical confrontation starts.
Jefferson's shirt gets ripped as he throws several punches, but misses. At that point, Officer Matthew Ruggiero uses his baton to strike at Jefferson who then connects 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 confirmed that the blood belonged to Ruggiero.
The officer suffered a broken nose, jaw and other facial fractures, according to the department.
In court, 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 we see, says they were 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.
Ruggiero continues to recover at home.
The judge ordered Jefferson to stand trial for assault on an officer, and resisting arrest.
She made note of the officer’s severe injuries, but did say there's potential for a self-defense argument.
Jefferson is being held on 250-thousand dollars bail. His trail is scheduled for April 27th. If convicted, he faces 9 years and four months in prison.