A deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department is scheduled to appear in court Monday to answer charges that he doused a teenager’s pizza with pepper spray and caused the teen and his friend to become ill last year.
Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Tavera, 30, eyed the pizza after the teen was pulled over by another officer during a traffic stop. While the 19-year-old was being questioned about a traffic violation in Laguna Hills, Calif., Tavera allegedly snuck into the teenager’s vehicle and laced a pizza in the back seat with pepper spray, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Tavera, who is currently on paid administrative leave, faces up to a year in jail if convicted on charges of assault or battery by a public official, the paper said.
The teen was unaware that his pizza was pepper sprayed, and he and four friends became sick after they later ate the pie in September. The 19-year-old became suspicious and later told authorities about his interaction with police, NBC Los Angeles reported. An investigation into the pepper-sprayed pizza led to the charges against Tavera by the Orange County district attorney.
Tavera is expected to appear in a court in Newport Beach, Calif., on Monday.