San Diego Fire-Rescue Captain's Arrests Play Role in Stabbing Trial

Capt. Steven Michaels testified he was arrested twice for domestic violence including one incident that involved his wife who was seven months pregnant at the time

A San Diego Fire-Rescue captain’s past arrests for domestic violence played a role Tuesday in the trial of a man accused of stabbing firefighters in the line of duty.

Prosecutors argue the defendant attacked firefighters and paramedics called to an East Village trolley stop.  The defense attorney argued the incident would not have happened had the fire captain not pushed the defendant. 

Ryan Allen Jones faces attempted murder charges in the June 24 attack. 

Witnesses say Jones, 34, interfered with firefighters and paramedics who were called to help a drunk man.

A body camera worn by a Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) security guard captured some of the incident.

Prosecutors say the video shows firefighter Ben Vernon backing away with his hands up as Jones pulls out a knife and stabs him. When Alex Wallbrett rushed to his partner’s aid, he too was stabbed, according to prosecutors.

Vernon was stabbed twice and suffered a collapsed lung. Wallbrett suffered multiple stab wounds.

SDFD Capt. Steven Michaels, who was overseeing the paramedics while they treated the patient, testified about Jones' demeanor moments before the stabbing.

He explained why he felt he needed to push Jones away from his crew.

“I felt threatened at that point,” Michaels testified. “He was starting to get closer and closer.”

Defense attorney Thomas Bahr claimed Jones was trying to "help and calm" an intoxicated man and did not draw a weapon until he was pushed by the fire captain. 

During Michaels' testimony, jurors heard how he was arrested twice for domestic violence.  In one incident, Michaels testified he punched his wife who was seven months pregnant at the time.

The fire captain knew the arrests would be brought up during the trial but said he still wanted to testify.

Bahr argues that if it weren't for Michaels' temper, the attack would not have happened.

A juror whose body language showed his disapproval of the defense's line of questioning was dismissed.

Jones faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

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