Irvine, CA — Even when they’re off-duty, police officers and sheriff’s deputies still retain their police powers. On the flip side, they’re still subject to the same regulations regarding the use of those powers as they would be while on the clock. If an off-duty police officer is found to have violated those rules or misused their authority, they could face internal reprimand or even criminal charges.
Former Signal Hill police officer Jacob Emory Swigger, 39, was arrested on Friday following an investigation into a confrontation that Swigger allegedly had with another motorist in November of 2014. Swigger, a resident of Lake Forest, was driving to work on the morning in question, and was reportedly cut off by another driver on the 5 Freeway in Irvine. According to prosecutors, Swigger responded by speeding up and swerving to force the other driver to stop.
After that, Swigger allegedly got out of his car in the middle of traffic and ordered the other driver to come out at gunpoint. Witnesses called 911 to report that Swigger was slamming the other driver against his car and holding a gun to his head.
The charges against Swigger, including excessive force by a police officer and assault with a firearm, stem from a lengthy investigation by the California Highway Patrol and the Orange County DA’s office. Though Swigger is no longer with the Signal Hill PD, a department chief issued a statement to express his disappointment that “someone who had previously subscribed to a life of public service has been charged with a crime.” Swigger has been released on bail and must return to court at the end of March.
You might sometimes think that the criminal charges listed in news stories sound oddly specific, like “excessive force by a police officer” or “murder with a special circumstance of lying in wait.” What this usually means is that there are sentencing enhancements that accompany particularly severe crimes. While this might seem bad for a defendant, it does leave a skilled criminal defense attorney room to negotiate.
At the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, we know all the best strategies for fighting criminal charges in Southern California’s state and federal courts. While our offices are located in Orange County, we’ve taken on cases in LA, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. No matter how difficult a case might seem, we never give up on our clients and we aren’t afraid of facing media scrutiny.
Emery, Sean. “Former Signal Hill police officer arrested in Irvine road rage incident.” http://www.ocregister.com/articles/swigger-653313-police-car.html. Orange County Register. 6 March 2015.