SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A man found guilty of punching a San Diego police officer during a rally at Chicano Park earlier this year was sentenced Friday to seven years in state prison.
Frederick Jefferson was convicted in early August of assaulting an SDPD officer during a Feb. 3 demonstration at Barrio Logan’s Chicano Park.
Jefferson was found guilty on four counts, including using force likely to cause great bodily injury on a police officer and resisting a police officer with force or violence.
As the hearing began, the 39-year old was given the opportunity to speak. He said he picked a passage from Romans to read from the Bible about submitting to authority.
After reading it, he told the court if he had been more studied on the passage he would have just submitted to the officer when he was hit by the baton.
"All I had to do was allow the man to do what he was doing," said Jefferson, "When he first started attacking; sit back and trust in the most high."
Officer Matthew Ruggiero, who was punched by Jefferson, also addressed the court.
"My skull is being held together with metal plates and I'm still going through orthodontic treatment for the injuries I sustained 7 months ago," said Ruggiero. "More important, my wife and my parents, and especially my kids, have been deeply affected and traumatized by this crime."
Ruggiero was followed by his wife, who spoke through tears, saying, “When Jefferson decided not to comply, he took the next 6 to 12 months -- I don't know how many months this will end up being -- from my family's well-being, and he's changed our lives forever."
Officer Ruggiero and his wife both made clear the February 3rd incident will forever impact their lives. They say their young daughter is still deeply worried every time her dad goes to work.
Ruggiero also told Jefferson to stop blaming others for what happens to him and to take responsibility, for not only this incident, but past issues in his life.
In that regard, the prosecution said in court the Baltimore Police Department will be seeking the extradition of Jefferson, as his DNA is a match for a rape case in that city.
The recommended sentence in the police assault case was 8 years and 8 months. Ultimately, Frederick Jefferson was sentenced to 7 years, but he now faces the rape case in Baltimore.
In an interview with 10News following his arrest, Jefferson maintained he struck the officer in the face in self-defense.
Jefferson admitted that he did not get out of the street when he was asked to, as police attempted to disperse the crowd of protesters. He told 10News an officer grabbed his shirt and swung a billy club, adding that he was “afraid” the officer would “go to town on me with the billy club.”
Jefferson said that he punched the officer in the face twice. Police said the officer suffered broken facial bones as a result of the assault.
“If he got injured like really badly like they’re saying, I’m sorry for that,” said Jefferson.