O.C. deputy who pepper-sprayed teen’s pizza pleads guilty

An Orange County sheriff’s deputy was sentenced Friday to one year of informal probation and 100 hours of community service after pleading gulty to pepper-spraying a teen’s pizza during a routine traffic stop.

The teen and four friends later became ill when they ate the pizza.

Juan Tavera, a six-year veteran of the department, pleaded guilty Friday to one misdemeanor count of assault or battery by a public officer.

He had been assigned to the south operations division in Laguna Hills at the time of the pepper-spraying incident in 2012.


Tavera, 30, pulled up at the traffic stop on Sept. 8, 2012, after another officer pulled the teenager over in Laguna Hills, according to officials.

Tavera reportedly saw a pizza box on the backseat of the victim’s car and pepper-sprayed the food without the 19-year-old noticing it.

The teen later returned home, eating the pizza with four friends. All five became ill, making the victim suspicious of his earlier interaction with the deputy, and he reported it to the Sheriff’s Department.

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