OC Deputy Is Accused of Pepper Spraying Teen's Pizza

The deputy allegedly sprayed the pizza without the teen's knowledge

By Christina Cocca
|  Saturday, Aug 3, 2013  |  Updated 4:19 PM PDT
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Deputy Allegedly Pepper Sprays Teen's Pizza

NBC10 - Dan Stamm

An Orange County Sheriff’s deputy is facing jail time after being accused of pepper spraying a teen's pizza without his knowledge during a traffic stop last year, prosecutors said.

Juan Tavera, a six-year veteran of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at the time of the alleged crime, faces one year in jail if convicted of spraying the pizza and ultimately sickening five people who ate it, according to a release by the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Tavera, 30, allegedly pulled over a 19-year-old named as John Doe for a traffic violation on Sept. 8, 2012, when he noticed a pizza in the back seat and pepper sprayed it without the teen noticing, the release stated.

The teen returned home to share the pizza with four friends, and all five people became sick as a result of ingesting the pepper spray-contaminated pie. He became suspicious and notified the sheriff’s department of his interaction with the deputy, the DA's office said.

Tavera is charged with misdemeanor assault or battery by a public officer and is set to be arraigned Monday in Newport Beach.

He is currently on paid administrative leave.

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