San Jose police officer accused of punching a woman is charged with assault
A San Jose police officer was charged Wednesday with felony assault after allegedly punching a woman in the face while off duty in a road rage incident last summer.
The Santa Clara County district attorney charged George Brown, 37, with felony assault under the color of authority and misdemeanor battery and child endangerment. Brown could face prison if convicted, but district attorney officials did not specify a possible sentence.
He was booked Wednesday into the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and released on $75,000 bail. Another man, identified as Brown’s passenger, was also charged with misdemeanor battery.
San Jose police officials said the department learned of the incident in July and placed Brown on paid administrative leave after an “internal investigation obtained more detailed information.” Brown remained on paid leave as of Thursday, police officials said.
“I assure you that this officer will be held accountable for any law or policy violations if they have occurred,” San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata said in an emailed statement.
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According to a release from the district attorney’s office, the incident began July 24 around 8 p.m. as Brown was driving a Ford Explorer occupied by several others, including a child.
Brown’s Explorer nearly collided with a Ford Flex, occupied by a male driver, a woman and their teenage daughter. Both cars entered Interstate 280, where Brown and the other driver “accelerated and braked in an aggressive manner” before the woman in the Flex struck the Explorer with a water bottle.
Brown mouthed for the driver of the Flex to pull over on the shoulder of Interstate 680 and stopped behind him, blocking a lane of traffic.
The driver of the Flex and his adult female passenger, and Brown and an adult male passenger got out of their cars. Brown identified himself as a police officer, then punched the woman in the face “without provocation,” knocking her to the ground. He punched her again as she tried to stand up, officials said.
Brown then jumped into a fight between his passenger and the Flex driver.
Brown at some point had called his department’s dispatcher and requested assistance from other officers, the district attorney’s office said. All four parties got back in their vehicles and drove away from the scene before the backup officers arrived.
The woman that Brown struck went to a local hospital, where she reported the assault, triggering an investigation by the California Highway Patrol.
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The incident was captured by multiple cameras mounted on a Tesla that passed by the scene in the slow traffic and partially captured by a witness’s cellphone. The footage is being withheld until the trial, said Santa Clara Dist. Atty. Jeff Rosen.
“Police officers enforce the law but are not above it,” Rosen said Wednesday.
“It’s disappointing that an officer whether on or off duty would act in such a reckless and violent way. I think that a higher standard of behavior is not a suggestion or request, but is built into the badge,” he said.
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