FAIRFIELD — A misdemeanor battery charge against a 22-year-old man accused of attacking a Fairfield police officer at Lee Bell Park is under review by the Solano County District Attorney’s Office, which may seek to amend the battery to a felony charge.
“We are investigating the nature and extent of the injury to the police officer,” John Daughtery, chief deputy district attorney, said Friday. “We need to sort out what happened to him.”
Three misdemeanor charges were filed March 6 against Blake Brandon Cooper after the March 4 incident at the park that left Officer Steve Garcia injured.
Daughtery said police checked the felony box on the arrest and detention form completed on Cooper but that the 243(b) battery on a police officer – included in the form along with resisting arrest and assault on a police dog – can only be charged as a misdemeanor. Penal Code Section 243(c) represents a felony, Daughtery said.
The chief deputy district attorney said he reviewed the file Thursday and if the prosecution seeks a felony battery charge, the District Attorney’s Office would amend the complaint against Cooper. The court would decide whether to allow the amended complaint, Daughtery said, but such requests are often routinely granted.
“What we charge is what we believe we can prove,” he said.
The District Attorney’s Office is awaiting a supplemental report from the Fairfield Police Department about the officer’s injuries.
“Anytime a police officer is injured in the line duty, it’s a huge matter to us,” Daughtery said.
Amendments to criminal charges, he said, are also made in other cases not involving an officer when prosecutors learn injuries to a person are more severe than first believed.
Fairfield Police Chief Walt Tibbet said the March 4 incident at Lee Bell Park that left Officer Garcia injured is more than a misdemeanor battery.
“There is no doubt,” he said. “That really deserves a felony charge.”
Fairfield City Councilman John Mraz, who worked in law enforcement for more than 30 years and served in the Fairfield Police Department from 1965-86, said it will be several months before Garcia can return to duty and that Cooper, if convicted, should be sent to prison.
“You’re not going to assault one of my cops and put him out for several months,” Mraz said.
Jenna Morton, deputy public defender, could not be reached for comment about Cooper’s case, which is scheduled for an April 22 pretrial conference in Solano County Superior Court.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.