A San Diego man accused of attempting to use pepper spray on a peace officer fought to get charges dismissed at a pretrial hearing Monday.
Robert Branch was arrested May 4, 2015 after an altercation with a San Diego County Sheriff’s Detective.
Branch, who videotaped part of the incident, claims the plain-clothed detective was driving an unmarked car and did not identify himself before choking Branch.
Branch started recording after he pulled his vehicle over on a residential street in the Del Cerro area. In the video, Branch is heard repeatedly telling the detective that he has no right to touch him. The official then puts his arm around Branch’s neck, and the phone drops, fading to black.
However, a San Diego County Deputy District Attorney said Branch was speeding and driving erratically when he almost struck the detective’s car.
The prosecution claims that when the detective identified himself, showed his badge and asked for Branch’s license and registration, Branch refused and began to use his hands to keep the officer away.
The detective asked to search Branch for weapons, but the defendant responded by allegedly pulling out a can of pepper spray, prosecutor said.
In court Monday, the judge heard from Branch’s boss at Contemporary Services Corporation or CSC, a security company.
Security manager Robert Mohorc said Branch has worked for CSC for three years, passed a background check and completed 40 hours of online training and a four-hour orientation.
Employees are not allowed to carry weapons, handcuffs or pepper spray, the manager said. He added that security guards do not wear tactical vests like the one Branch was wearing when he was pulled over.
Branch told the detective that he was on his way to work for CSC when he was pulled over, but Mohorc testified that statement was not true.
Branch has since filed an excessive force lawsuit against the county, which is on hold until the allegations against him are resolved.
Tuesday morning the Sheriff’s deputy who put Branch in the chokehold will testify.
Monday afternoon the prosecutor charged Robert Branch with two more felonies. Branch pleaded not guilty to stalking and making crime threats in 2013. The prosecutor said it shows Branch has a temper.