A San Diego police officer is scheduled to be arraigned today on a charge of assaulting a handcuffed man at the beach--making him the third city policeman facing criminal charges for striking a man after his hands were bound behind his back.
Three-year veteran Jeffrey M. Jacob has been charged with misdemeanor assault in a confrontation that occurred almost half a year ago. Police Department officials said Wednesday that Jacob continues to patrol in uniform and with a gun and that he has not been disciplined.
In most cases, officers named in criminal charges or serious citizen complaints have been reassigned to administrative duties.
But Capt. Dick Toneck, a Police Department spokesman, said the case is being reviewed internally to determine what, if any, discipline is warranted.
“The command hasn’t got the information from Internal Affairs yet,” Toneck said. “It’s still a personnel issue, and we don’t know if he’s going to be reprimanded or suspended or whatever.
“So, at this time, the command doesn’t feel he’s a danger out in the field.”
According to the misdemeanor count filed Feb. 24 in San Diego Municipal Court, the 34-year-old Jacob “did willfully, unlawfully under the color of authority and without lawful necessity assault and beat Christopher Del Larsen.”
Jacob, who is assigned to the Northern Division, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. But his attorney, Everett Bobbitt, said the officer will plead not guilty at his court hearing today.
The attorney said Jacob is accused of assaulting Larsen while attempting to place him under arrest Oct. 1 in the 3000 block of Ocean Front Walk. Bobbitt said Larsen later filed a citizen complaint alleging that Jacob struck him with a soda can in the face while his hands were handcuffed behind his back and threw him to the ground.
‘Drunk and Abusive’
“But my client will tell you that he never hit the individual, that the individual was drunk, abusive and was forcefully taken into custody,” Bobbitt said. “He was pushed to the ground, but that’s not illegal. That’s done when you have a combative prisoner.”
The attorney said Jacob was carrying a can at the time of the incident but it was not used as a weapon.
“He never touched the individual with it,” Bobbitt said. “He simply gestured with his hand. And there isn’t any police officer who is able to say he (Larsen) was indeed hit with a Coke can.”
Bobbitt added that, although Larsen was treated at a hospital, his injuries did not come from a deliberate assault by Jacob.
Wrestled on the Ground
“He had a small facial cut, but it was on the opposite side of where the Coke can would have been,” Bobbitt said. “I suspect that the injury was incurred when the officer and him were wrestling to the ground.”
Larsen could not be reached for comment.
In a separate case, Officers David A. Nellis and Mark L. Keyser have been charged with felony assault. They allegedly beat up a handcuffed man last September.
In that case, Keyser has been placed on administrative duty and Nellis has been discharged from the Police Department because of an unrelated infraction in which he allegedly fabricated a shooting incident.