District Attorney Trying to Cover Up Police Brutality in San Diego

San Diego Defenders

District Attorney Trying to Cover Up Police Brutality in San Diego

A rally was held outside the San Diego District Attorney’s Office yesterday calling on Bonnie Dumanis to drop criminal charges against a man who was put in a chokehold by an off duty San Diego Sheriff’s Detective last year.

Back in May, an off duty Sheriff’s Detective went after a young man he saw speeding on Interstate 8.  When the man, Robert Branch, stopped the Detective, Paul Ward, got out of his unmarked vehicle and confronted Branch. Branch started recording the incident.  You can see and hear in the video Ward tell Branch to sit down.  Then he grabs Branch from behind with a chokehold.  This happened in May.  Late in the year, Branch filed a civil suit against the County.  A few weeks later, the County D.A. filed criminal charges against Branch.


  • When is the last time you heard of any off duty Detective going after someone for speeding?
  • Why did he have to use a chokehold?  Many law enforcement agencies have banned chokeholds because people have been seriously hurt or killed.  Branch was not in any way threatening the Detective or trying to leave.  In fact, he wanted to call San Diego P.D..  Why use potentially deadly force just because you are pissed that the young black man isn’t following your instructions?
  • Off duty, no uniform, unmarked vehicle.  How in the world would anyone believe this guy actually was a cop?  Non-cops with badges use that rouse all the time to steal and commit other crimes.
  • WHY IS THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE PROSECUTING THE GUY WHO GOT CHOKED?  The incident happened in May.  They had the video, witness statements and all police reports soon thereafter.  Yet, it wasn’t until December, right after Branch filed a civil suit against the County that the County D.A. filed charges against him.

There seem to be only two possible reasons for the timing.  I am sure the D.A. will say they had been reviewing the case and hadn’t decided whether to file charges or what charges to file until December and that it had nothing to do with the civil suit.  That sounds like they are incompetent.  They claim someone assaulted a cop and it took them seven months to figure out what to do about it?

The second scenario is that the County D.A. is trying to protect a County Sheriff’s Detective.  That is shameful and unethical.  And, it has happened before. And, to a certain extent, it really doesn’t matter.  Whether they are being inept or unethical, the D.A.’s Office gives the Public the impression they are trying to cover up police brutality.  That erodes the trust in prosecutors, the police and our entire judicial system.

Call Dan Smith and Jon Pettis at San Diego Defenders if you have questions about excessive force leading to your arrest or someone you care about and we will answer your questions at (619) 258-8888.