Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Case # 13HM05257
January 17, 2014
Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPUTY CONVICTED
FOR PEPPER SPRAYING TEEN’S PIZZA
DURING TRAFFIC STOP
NEWPORT BEACH – An Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) deputy was convicted and sentenced today to one year of informal probation and 100 hours of community service for pepper spraying a teen’s pizza during a routine traffic stop. Juan Tavera, 30, pleaded guilty today, Jan. 17, 2014, to one misdemeanor count of assault or battery by a public officer.
At the time of the crime, Tavera was a 6-year veteran of the OCSD assigned to the South Operations Division/Contract City of Laguna Hills.
On Sept. 8, 2012, the defendant arrived on-scene after 19-year-old John Doe was pulled over by a different officer for a traffic infraction in Laguna Hills. Upon arriving, the defendant found a pizza box on the backseat of the victim’s car and pepper sprayed the pizza without the victim’s knowledge.
John Doe later returned to his home and shared the pizza with four friends, causing all five to experience discomfort as a result of ingesting pepper spray. John Doe notified OCSD after becoming suspicious of his earlier interaction with the deputy.
OCSD immediately investigated this case and forwarded it to the Orange County District Attorney for review.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Brett Brian of the Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted this case.