A former Signal Hill cop was arrested today on charges of using excessive force under the color of authority during a road-rage incident on the 5 freeway in South Orange County.
Jacob Emory Swigger, 39, of Lake Forest, faces felony excessive force by a police officer and assault with a firearm that could send him to state prison for four years if convicted, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA).
Currently out of custody on $50,000 bail, Swigger is scheduled to be arraigned on March 30, prosecutors say.
The OCDA says Swigger is no longer employed with the Signal Hill Police Department, but he was around 7 a.m. on Nov. 20, when he was driving to work in his personal vehicle while dressed in civilian clothing.
As Swigger was heading north on the 5 near Bake Parkway, a 50-year-old male driver changed lanes in front of the cop, which prompted Swigger to honk his vehicle's horn and drive after the lane changer for about a mile and a half, according to the OCDA.
This ended when Swigger drove up alongside the other vehicle and suddenly swerved directly in front of the 50-year-old's ride, forcing the man to come to a complete stop, prosecutors allege.
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Swigger got out of his car in the middle of the freeway (and during morning rush-hour traffic), walked up to the lane changer, pointed a gun at the motorist, identified himself as a police officer and ordered the driver out, the OCDA alleges.
When the man did not immediately comply, Swigger is accused of opening the fellow's car door, pulling him out of the vehicle and causing him to fall to the ground, says the OCDA, which further alleges the policeman repeatedly slammed the victim against his own vehicle, putting a gun to the poor soul's head and dragging him behind the vehicle in the middle of traffic.
Several passing motorists called 9-1-1, and the California Highway Patrol responded and launched in an investigation that culminated with Swigger's arrest today, prosecutors say.