Tony Denunzio, who alleges he was the victim of excessive force by a Santa Barbara police officer during a DUI stop, was found guilty by a jury last week on one count of domestic battery in a separate case.
Denunzio was charged with three counts of battery in a domestic violence incident that occurred Oct. 5, 2011.
According to Santa Barbara County Superior Court documents, police have been called to his residence at least twice for domestic violence incidents with his live-in girlfriend. The woman, her 18-year-old son and Denunzio’s teenage son were listed as victims in this case.
A witness called police after reportedly seeing Denunzio push the woman, who fell to the ground, during an argument outside the residence they share, and later pushed the two young men, according to court documents.
The case went to trial last week, and the jury came back with a verdict on Thursday, according to Deputy District Attorney Gary Gemberling. The jury found Denunzio not guilty of domestic battery with the female victim, guilty of battery on her son, and was unable to reach a verdict on a battery charge relating to his son.
Denunzio was arrested and convicted of driving under the influence in February 2009, after he had been arguing with his girlfriend, the same woman. He didn’t harm her, according to court documents, but she wanted him to leave so she called 9-1-1. Police located him and arrested him on suspicion of DUI.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 30, and the maximum charge for the battery case is 180 days in jail, according to Gemberling. In addition to time for Denunzio’s probation case, however, he could be facing a maximum of 500 days in county jail.
Denunzio’s other case, also working its way through the courts, began Oct. 21, 2011, when police Officer Aaron Tudor pulled Denunzio over on suspicion of driving under the influence.
After the stop in the Loreto Plaza parking lot, Denunzio got out of his truck, which prompted a physical response by Tudor, who hit, kicked and repeatedly Tasered the suspect. Some of the confrontation was captured by a dashboard video camera in Tudor’s police car. Tudor and police officials say Denunzio was resisting arrest. Denunzio and a number of eyewitnesses say he was not resisting and that Tudor’s response was excessive.
An investigation by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office did not find sufficient admissible evidence to file either resisting arrest charges against Denunzio or excessive force charges against Tudor. An internal investigation is under way against Tudor, although Police Chief Cam Sanchez has said Tudor did nothing wrong.
Denunzio has pleaded not guilty to charges of driving under the influence, driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08 and driving on a suspended license.
The District Attorney’s Office moved the case to a North County courtroom because of the publicity surrounding the case. North County-based Deputy District Attorney Mai Trieu will be prosecuting that case, which is scheduled to be in court again Thursday.
— Noozhawk staff writers Lara Cooper and Giana Magnoli can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.