SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A San Diego man said he was defending himself when he punched a San Diego Police officer in the face twice.
It happened February 3rd while police were trying to disperse people away from Chicano Park in Barrio Logan.
“I was walking down the street and the cops pulled up to me. Told me, ‘Get out of the road,’” recounted 29-year-old Frederick Jefferson.
Jefferson said he was leaving a pancake breakfast when he found himself walking down the middle of the street during a protest between two groups fighting over the historical significance of Chicano Park. San Diego Police set up barricades and had dozens of officers in Barrio Logan to keep order.
RELATED: At least 4 arrested, one for punching officer, at Chicano Park demonstrations
During a jailhouse interview with 10News, Jefferson said a San Diego Police officer asked him to get out the street. However, Jefferson said he didn’t want to walk with the protestors.
“I’m like, ‘I’m not with that’…not with whatever’s going on. ‘I’m not with that’ because they were trying to steer me over to this huge crowd of people with all the cops,” he said.
Jefferson said he tried talking to the officer but admitted he did not get out of the street.
“When they got out of the car, I continued walking,” he said. “I told them I said, ‘I’m just going to keep walking on’ and as I kept walking on they came up behind me.”
RELATED: Video: Demonstration between groups at Chicano Park becomes violent
Jefferson said that’s when the officer grabbed his shirts and swung a billy club.
Jefferson said, “I was afraid that if this dude got back a hold of me he was going to go town on me with the billy club.”
San Diego Police Lt. Scott Wahl said Jefferson started fighting first.
Jefferson did admit to 10News hitting the officer twice in the face.
“I swung and hit him to put distance between us and then he swung again and I swung again because I could not let this dude grab me.”
Police said Jefferson broke bones in the officer’s face.
“It was a very serious injury. It could have been much worse,” said Lt. Wahl.
“If he got injured like really badly like they’re saying, I’m sorry for that,” offered Jefferson.
Jefferson said he currently lives with Project Alpha, an organization that helps the homeless. He’s facing four charges stemming from his arrest. He could face more than nine years in prison if he is convicted.
Lt. Wahl sent 10News the statement after Jefferson’s interview:
“This defendant is charged with four felony crimes including force likely to cause great bodily injury on a police officer and resisting a police officer with force or violence. The facts and evidence in this case will become public as it moves forward. In the meantime, because this is a pending criminal case we cannot comment on statements made by the defendant.”
Jack Schaeffer, the president of the San Diego Police Officer’s Association was also reluctant to comment on the investigation.
He simply added, “The only person injured during Saturday’s protest was our officer.”