An officer with the San Diego Police Department is facing felony charges of assault with a firearm stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend, officials confirmed Wednesday.
The police department said Officer Timothy Romberger – an 11-year veteran of the SDPD – was arrested on Jan. 23, one day after the department became aware of the alleged incident.
Romberger was arraigned at the El Cajon Superior Courthouse Wednesday. San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Jessica Paugh said the officer was charged with a two-count complaint that includes one count of felony assault with a semi-automatic firearm and one charge of felony domestic violence.
Romberger pleaded not guilty.
According to the complaint filed with the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, Romberger allegedly assaulted his girlfriend on Jan. 12. The police department said the incident happened in Santee.
The complaint lists the victim as the mother of Romberger's children.
Paugh said a judge has ordered a criminal protective order against Romberger restraining him from having any contact with his girlfriend. He was also ordered to have no contact with his children.
The prosecutor said Romberger is accused of taking out a gun and pointing it to his girlfriend’s head. He also allegedly asked her to tell him “a reason you deserve to live,” Paugh said.
The firearm was recovered.
The investigation is ongoing.
For now, the SDPD said Romberger’s “powers have been revoked” and he has been suspended from duty, with pay. The officer is normally assigned to Eastern Division Patrol.
The case is being handled by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. The DA’s office said Romberger faces up to nine years in prison, if convicted.
For now, he remains out of jail on a $50,000 bond.
He is due back in court on Feb. 22 for a readiness hearing and again on March 19 for a preliminary hearing.
Paugh said that police officer or not, the DA’s office “treats all criminal defendants the same.”
“He’s not going to get any special treatment simply because he’s a police officer,” said Paugh. “It’s our duty to protect domestic violence victims, no matter who the perpetrator is.”
District Attorney Summer Stephan released a statement Wednesday thanking SDPD Chief Dave Nieslit and his team for investigating this case and submitting to her office.
“For justice to thrive, it is important that everyone is accountable under the law,” Stephan added.
NBC 7 spoke with a former neighbor of the officer Wednesday who said that when Romberger lived near her, she often heard loud noises and yelling coming from his home.
One time, Willey said she heard Romberger throwing things into a pool and pounding on a shed.
She said deputies would repeatedly be called to Romberger’s home due to the disturbances.
As a neighbor, Willey said Romberger mostly kept to himself.