SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office charged a San Jose police officer with felony assault this week for allegedly punching a woman in the face during a road rage incident on Interstate Highway 680 months ago.
The district attorney charged George Brown, 37, with assault under the color of authority, misdemeanor battery, and misdemeanor child endangerment for an incident that occurred when he was off duty earlier this year.
"It is disappointing that an officer - on or off duty - would act in such a reckless and violent way," Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. "A higher standard of behavior is not a suggestion or a request. It is built into the badge."
On the evening of July 24, Brown, driving a Ford Explorer almost collided with another vehicle, a Ford Flex, while driving onto I-280. According to reports, both accelerated and braked in an aggressive manner, while they both had passengers, including children, in the vehicles.
At one point a woman sitting in the passenger seat of the Flex threw a water bottle at Brown's Explorer. While Brown spoke on his phone, he mouthed to the male driver of the Flex to pull over on I-680, which he did. Brown then called San Jose Police Dispatch for assistance, using "code 3" which is only supposed to be used for emergencies.
Pulled over, Brown and his passenger Erik Brunner exited the Explorer, as did the male driver and female passenger of the other vehicle.
"Brown identified himself as an SJPD officer, and then without provocation the 220-pound officer punched the 5-foot-3-inch woman in the face, knocking her to the ground. When she attempted to stand back up, Brown punched her again," said a statement from Rosen's office.
After Brown attacked the woman, Brunner attacked the male driver and Brown later joined him, according to the statement. At some point, the fighting stopped and both parties went to their vehicles. Both cars left the scene before law enforcement arrived.
When home, the woman went to the hospital to be treated for her wounds and her discussion with her doctor triggered a police report.
Brunner is also charged with assault.
A witness in a vehicle with several cameras also reported the incident to police and provided investigators with the footage. Other witnesses also supplied cell phone footage, but Rosen's office said it will not release any of the videos to protect the privacy of the victims.
"We are aware of the CHP investigation and subsequent charges filed today involving alleged actions by an off-duty officer," said San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata. "Our internal investigation will be completed following the criminal proceedings. I assure you that this Officer will be held accountable for any law or policy violations if they have occurred.
"These allegations defy everything I stand for and have no place in our organization. Violence against women is detestable and our Department members work every day to prevent it."
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