4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Deputy's carotid hold unwarranted?

Defendant says ununiformed officer victimized him after traffic incident

Marc Kohnen (center), counsel for Branch, with Desiree Smith (far left) and Shane Harris (center right)
Marc Kohnen (center), counsel for Branch, with Desiree Smith (far left) and Shane Harris (center right)

A 25-year-old security guard who captured his interaction with a "loose cannon" undercover sheriff's deputy on film last May pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon (December 21) to charges of assaulting an officer.

After a traffic altercation, detective Paul Ward followed Robert Branch for nine miles. Branch said he pulled over to investigate a noise coming from his car, and then Ward stopped and told Branch he was being arrested. Branch began recording the encounter on his mobile phone, vocally objecting to the deputy's attempts to physically restrain him and asking for a uniformed police unit to be dispatched.

Video cuts out when Ward places Branch in a "carotid restraint" and throws him to the ground, though recorded audio of the encounter continues for several minutes. Branch was eventually arrested on felony charges of resisting arrest; at one point Branch pulled a can of pepper spray from his guard equipment and trained it on Ward.

In October, Branch filed suit against Ward and the department, demanding that the department adopt new policies in regard to chokeholds and other neck restraints, and pay "punitive and treble damages."

While Branch pursues his claims, authorities have charged him with felony assault and misdemeanor reckless driving and resisting arrest counts.

"Mr. Branch was victimized on May 12th of this year. Now he's being victimized all over again by the justice system," said Branch's lawyer Marc Kohnen at a press conference before the court appearance. "This should not be a criminal case; however, we're going to plead not guilty to assaulting an officer when, in fact, Paul Ward was the malefactor. Paul Ward assaulted Mr. Branch. We look forward to defending this case and taking it to trial."

At the Lemon Grove conference, organized by a local chapter of Al Sharpton's National Action Network, the group promised to pursue not only victories in the conflicting Branch cases but a greater reform of police policies throughout the region.

"My story is that my son was at school when a girl's phone came up missing. In the midst of a search, they found a lighter in his backpack — when they snatched the backpack from him, he jumped back, which caused him to be slammed against a wall, into the ground, placed into a chokehold, and tasered in the back," said Desiree Smith, recounting her family's unrelated allegations of misconduct by police in San Diego. "As his mother, I wasn't notified of what happened on the school grounds until he was already en route to juvenile hall.

"Earlier in the day he had ditched school and was drinking — they want to focus on that, on the victim's indiscretions rather than whether police are using excessive force with citizens. This has to stop, now. My son survived a chokehold, but if this continues will yours?"

Shane Harris, local network president, repeated the call for reform.

"There has got to be justice not just for Robert, but for every person suffering injustice stemming from misconduct in policing," said Harris. "We call upon the sheriff's department, and on Sheriff Gore, to terminate or take disciplinary action against Paul Ward, who is clearly wrong in the way he handled himself in this case. The video speaks for itself."

If convicted, Branch faces up to four years in prison. A preliminary hearing is tentatively set to occur next March, with Branch remaining free on his own recognizance until then.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Thanksgiving Day Dining Cruise, Dua Lipa: Studio 2054 Livestream, Soft Kill: Dead Kids, R.i.p City

Events November 26-November 28, 2020
Next Article

San Diego's gay bathhouses, wild life of our foreign cabbies, best light in the city

Tans – the ultimate vanity, perilous life of border crossers, where San Diego street racers go now
Marc Kohnen (center), counsel for Branch, with Desiree Smith (far left) and Shane Harris (center right)
Marc Kohnen (center), counsel for Branch, with Desiree Smith (far left) and Shane Harris (center right)

A 25-year-old security guard who captured his interaction with a "loose cannon" undercover sheriff's deputy on film last May pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon (December 21) to charges of assaulting an officer.

After a traffic altercation, detective Paul Ward followed Robert Branch for nine miles. Branch said he pulled over to investigate a noise coming from his car, and then Ward stopped and told Branch he was being arrested. Branch began recording the encounter on his mobile phone, vocally objecting to the deputy's attempts to physically restrain him and asking for a uniformed police unit to be dispatched.

Video cuts out when Ward places Branch in a "carotid restraint" and throws him to the ground, though recorded audio of the encounter continues for several minutes. Branch was eventually arrested on felony charges of resisting arrest; at one point Branch pulled a can of pepper spray from his guard equipment and trained it on Ward.

In October, Branch filed suit against Ward and the department, demanding that the department adopt new policies in regard to chokeholds and other neck restraints, and pay "punitive and treble damages."

While Branch pursues his claims, authorities have charged him with felony assault and misdemeanor reckless driving and resisting arrest counts.

"Mr. Branch was victimized on May 12th of this year. Now he's being victimized all over again by the justice system," said Branch's lawyer Marc Kohnen at a press conference before the court appearance. "This should not be a criminal case; however, we're going to plead not guilty to assaulting an officer when, in fact, Paul Ward was the malefactor. Paul Ward assaulted Mr. Branch. We look forward to defending this case and taking it to trial."

At the Lemon Grove conference, organized by a local chapter of Al Sharpton's National Action Network, the group promised to pursue not only victories in the conflicting Branch cases but a greater reform of police policies throughout the region.

"My story is that my son was at school when a girl's phone came up missing. In the midst of a search, they found a lighter in his backpack — when they snatched the backpack from him, he jumped back, which caused him to be slammed against a wall, into the ground, placed into a chokehold, and tasered in the back," said Desiree Smith, recounting her family's unrelated allegations of misconduct by police in San Diego. "As his mother, I wasn't notified of what happened on the school grounds until he was already en route to juvenile hall.

"Earlier in the day he had ditched school and was drinking — they want to focus on that, on the victim's indiscretions rather than whether police are using excessive force with citizens. This has to stop, now. My son survived a chokehold, but if this continues will yours?"

Shane Harris, local network president, repeated the call for reform.

"There has got to be justice not just for Robert, but for every person suffering injustice stemming from misconduct in policing," said Harris. "We call upon the sheriff's department, and on Sheriff Gore, to terminate or take disciplinary action against Paul Ward, who is clearly wrong in the way he handled himself in this case. The video speaks for itself."

If convicted, Branch faces up to four years in prison. A preliminary hearing is tentatively set to occur next March, with Branch remaining free on his own recognizance until then.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Dance away heartbreak with SIDNĒ

“I’ve seen Satanic puppet shows, plastic baby dolls used as instruments, and 30 minutes of pitched yelling to melodic noise tracks.”
Next Article

Freemont cottonwoods along the San Diego River

Egrets, herons, terns start feeding in San Diego's wetlands
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close