Juan Tavera, Orange County Deputy, Accused of Pepper Spraying Pulled-Over Driver's Pizza

An Orange County sheriff's deputy is scheduled to be arraigned in Newport Beach this morning for allegedly pepper spraying a teen's pizza during a routine traffic stop.

Six-year veteran of the force Juan Tavera, 30, faces a misdemeanor count of assault or battery by a public officer and up to a year in jail if convicted.

And, no, the 19-year-old victim had not complained to Tavera about having forgotten to pick up packets of crushed red pepper.

The kid was pulled over in Laguna Hills Sept. 8, 2012, by one of Tavera's colleagues with the South Operations Division, which patrols the city. Tavera is accused of rolling up as backup, finding a pizza in the backseat of the 19-year-old's vehicle and, without the victim's knowledge, pepper spraying the pie.

After the teen and four friends later became sickened while eating the pizza, he became suspicious of his earlier traffic stop encounter and contacted the sheriff's department, which forwarded the case to the Orange County District Attorney's office.

Tavera is currently on administrative leave.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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