O.C. deputy charged with pepper spraying teen’s pizza

A sheriff’s deputy in Orange County will be arraigned Monday for allegedly pepper-spraying a teenager’s pizza during a traffic stop.

The teen, authorities said, and a group of friends later became sick after eating the pepper-spray tainted pizza.

Authorities charged Juan Tavera, 30, with one misdemeanor count of assault or battery by a public officer. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.


Tavera, who is on paid administrative leave, is a six-year veteran of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, stationed in Laguna Hills.

On Sept. 8, the deputy arrived at the scene where a 19-year-old man had been pulled over by another officer for a traffic violation in Laguna Hills.

Tavera is accused of spotting a pizza on the back seat of the victim’s car and then pepper spraying it without the teen noticing.

Later at home, the victim shared the pizza with four friends, leading all five to experience physical discomfort.

The teen called authorities after becoming suspicious of his earlier encounter with Tavera.

Sheriff’s officials investigated the case before forwarding it to the Orange County district attorney for review.

Tavera is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Newport Beach.


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