Judge Holds CHP Officer To Answer For Domestic Violence

by Antoinnette Borbon

A Yolo County California Highway Patrol officer was held to answer today after a preliminary hearing in which the officer’s wife refused to testify. Officer Armando Ortega of Woodland, California, has been charged with robbery, assault with intent to do great bodily injury, false imprisonment and assault on a person by a custodial officer.

Judge David Reed did not hold the officer to answer for the death threat made against Ortega’s spouse and/or her alleged boyfriend. Priscilla Ortega, the officer’s wife, was called to the stand by Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens but, as he began to question her, she repeatedly stated, weeping, “I cannot answer your questions.”

Judge Reed explained to her that she could be found in contempt of court, after being referred to a domestic violence counselor, per the Code of Civil Procedure section 1219(b).

DDA Couzens made the accusation that Attorney Steven Sabbadini had on occasion prompted his witnesses not to talk and that argued it bordered on criminal.

Judge Reed adamantly disagreed and gave Ms. Ortega the choice to speak with a counselor first before he would rule on the contempt charge.

After Ms. Ortega left the courtroom, Officer Benjamin Yen from the Woodland Police Department took the stand.

Yen was dispatched to the home on Farnham Avenue where the couple lived.

He testified to taking the statement of Ms. Ortega.

Officer Yen talked about the first assault. He said Ms. Ortega told him that Armando had grabbed her cell phone and had begun deleting Facebook pictures.

Ms. Ortega told Yen that Armando was asking her, “Who are you cheating on me with?” while he slapped her on the right side of her face.

Shortly after being slapped by her husband, Ms. Ortega left with the children to go to a game. When she returned, Armando was sitting on the couch.

She told Yen that he began asking her again, “Who are you cheating on me with?”

She described to Officer Yen that Armando accused her of cheating and told her he would look for her and her alleged boyfriend, “make him (beep) her in front of him, and then shoot them both.”

She told Yen that Armando grabbed her by her neck and threw her up against a wall, then, holding her by the neck as he dragged her along the kitchen table, repeatedly banged her head into the pantry door.

Ms. Ortega described calling for her son to help, but she could barely breathe or talk as Armando continued to choke her while he dragged her along the table by the neck.

But finally Ms. Ortega was able to yell for her son to make the call to police.

Officer Yen testified that Ms. Ortega told him the children were present during both assaults that day.

Ms. Ortega told Yen that her daughter had asked Armando why he hit her mommy, and he replied to their daughter, “Mommy is cheating on daddy.”

The defense attorney for Mr. Ortega had only a few questions for Officer Yen. She asked him about the argument over the Facebook photos and texts found on the alleged victim’s cell phone.

Yen explained to the defense that he was unsure about the photos from a Facebook page and/or about any texts on Ms. Ortega’s cell phone. He said Ms. Ortega was concerned about getting her cell phone back during the first incident, which led to her being slapped by the defendant.

He said Ms. Ortega was shocked at her husband’s behavior because he had never been abusive before.

Mr. Couzens asked the judge to hold Mr. Ortega accountable for all charges.

After listening to testimony and viewing photos of Ms. Ortega’s injuries, Judge Reed held Armando Ortega to answer on four counts, but not the Penal Code section 422 charge for the alleged threat to kill his wife and her alleged boyfriend.

The defense for Officer Ortega argued that he had no criminal past and suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She stated that the gun he has is not kept at the residence but at his office at work and her client posed no threat.

Ortega’s bail was upheld by Judge Reed.

Ms. Ortega will return to court on October 29. Judge Reed will determine whether or not to hold her in contempt of court.

CHP Officer Armando Ortega will be arraigned on the charges on October 29, also.

DDA Couzens was standing in for DDA Deanna Hays.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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23 Comments

  1. Davis Progressive

    i’m always interested in these articles.  i wonder what the percentage of police officers who go home and beat their wives is?  i am willing to bet it is quite high.  i know in my time as a prosecutor i have talked with some police about this issue, but it never gets the attention it deserves.

    1. South of Davis

      DP wrote:

      > i wonder what the percentage of police officers who go home and beat their wives is?

      I’m sure it is higher than average, but still lower than for NFL players…

      A friend is a cop and he was telling me that he thinks the high rate of divorce for cops (that includes his Dad, Uncle and Grand father) has to do with working all day and dealing with life and death situations and coming home to a wife that thinks it is a “life and death situation” when you forget to take out the garbage or forget to bring home milk…

      1. Tia Will

        South of Davis

        Fortunately, we do not pay NFL players to use restraint in their efforts to protect the community.

        I have another theory about what might be involved when a police officer goes home. The police officer has spent his day with the knowledge that having the license to use his physical strength, baton, pepper spray and ultimately his firearm to enforce his directions on civilians, it may be very hard to set aside the “I am in charge her mentality” and not apply the same tactics to the wife.

        I have two reasons for my alternate theory. Doctors in general, and surgeons in particular, frequently find themselves assuming the “I am in charge” mentality. Many, many of us have difficulty checking that attitude at the door.

        My partner is very, very involved with the custody side of prison management. In this capacity, he is very aware of the difficulty of leaving at work one’s attitude that your word is law and not to be challenged.

         

        1. Frankly

          The police officer has spent his day with the knowledge that having the license to use his physical strength, baton, pepper spray and ultimately his firearm to enforce his directions on civilians, it may be very hard to set aside the “I am in charge her mentality” and not apply the same tactics to the wife.

          I completely disagree with this somewhat derogatory, sexist and anti-cop-biased theory.

          If anything, a police officer would have a lot more practice than the average person for demonstrating restraint during conflict.

          I think a certainly personality type might be attracted to law enforcement and that might account for some small bit of the higher incidence of domestic violence, but I would attribute most of it to stress of the job and stress from outside critics of the job.

          Here are two real stories that I am personally aware of.

          1. Cop is a detective working a difficult case… for example routinely working 3-straight consecutive 20-hour shifts.  Has a somewhat overbearing wife and two hyper-active small children that the wife promptly hands to him when walks through the door and she goes out with her girlfriends to “recharge” so she says.   Tells his friends in confidence that his wife treats him like crap, denies him sex, is always complaining that he works too many hours and does not make enough money.  Considers leaving her, but knows CA family law will make him financial destitute after alimony and childcare. Also, wife has charged up credit cards to try and keep up with a couple friend in which the husband is a better paid firefighter… so they are in debt.  The cop also has several personal law suits filed against him by citizen cop-haters (even though he is known as being one of the most fair, kind and professional cops) and that is adding to his stress.  Starts having stress related tremors.  Drinks more than he should.  One day after a big fight with his wife, drives to a hotel, drinks 2 bottles of Vodka, puts a gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger.

          2. Cop in a similar situation becomes an alcoholic, then goes to AA and starts rebuilding his life.  Wife leaves him for another cop.  Kids go off the rails.  He argues with his ex-wife over her failure to manage and control the kids.  She calls the police to charge him with domestic violence.  He has to pay for both her attorney and his attorney until the case is thrown out.  He is now back to drinking.  So far he hasn’t hit his ex-wife.

          3. Cop is involved in a very ugly domestic violence case where an ex-husband shot and killed his ex-wife and kids and then used the gun to shoot at the cops responding until killing himself too.  It caused the cop to have untreated post traumatic stress syndrome which led to a suicide attempt that left him a paraplegic.  Living on disability pay, his wife left him.  His wife had previous affairs during their marriage which he had forgiven due to the fact that he was almost never home because of the long hours he would work.  And because he knew that she would get 60-70% of his pay and half his benefits leaving him destitute… which ironically happened anyway.

        2. theotherside

          If these facts are true, this is appalling.  Should the facts be found true this officer should be punished as any other person and his badge removed.  he does not belong in that profession.  I also commend YDA for taking this defendant on, just as they would any other citizen.

          Now on to my issues with the “experts”.  Tia wrote:

          “The police officer has spent his day with the knowledge that having the license to use his physical strength, baton, pepper spray and ultimately his firearm to enforce his directions on civilians”

          Interesting way to phrase this.  It would be more appropriate to phrase it as using those tools to overcome resistance and gain compliance in a reasonable fashion.  you make it sound as though the wife will get a batoning if dinner is late or the house is not in order while inferring a mouthy person on a traffic stop will get the same treatment.  The most important tool the Police Officer has is not on his belt, it’s his brain and his mouth.  Most, 97%, of resistive subjects are talked out of their poor decision before the tools are implemented.  That leaves 3% of the time where force is necessary.   Police Officers are well trained in this area and show great restraint.  Yes there are rare cases of excessive force, but the steps made in this area of communication over the last 20 years has been incredible.

          As far as divorce rates for law enforcement officers there is a far more reasonable factor, shift work.  Imagine your spouse or partner gone 4 nights a week.  The missed back to school nights, soccer games, and dinners.  Imagine feeling like a single parent 66% of the time.  Couple that with the stress from the carnage and abuse these officers see on a consistent basis and trying not to bring that home to the family.  It breeds loneliness and at times contempt.  It takes a special person to love a cop.  I would not be so quick to blame it all on domestic violence any more than I would in the civilian world.

      2. sisterhood

        Re: comments that a wife doesn’t understand the pressures her husband is under & does not suport him enough.

        Wow. So a strong, independent woman who is trying to hold down the fort while husband works long days is now “overbearing” and does not deserve a night out with her girlfriends, who may also be married to law enforcement or military or firefighters, EMT’s, etc. and can give the wife just the emotional support she needs to make the marriage last another day.

        Wow. I’m almost speechless. Of course women want to spend time with other women to commiserate. Of course they need a night out after taking care of the household while their husbands work swing shift or overtime. Of course they need the support of other wives in the same situation.

        Is this really so difficult to fathom? Really? Buying groceries to feed your family is not important? Really?

        Men don’t get grumpy when there isn’t food in the home? Really? Children don’t get irritable and grumpy when there is no food? Really? Moms don’t worry that the husband may slap the child more often if the child is grumpy and irritable because she didn’t get all the groceries to keep everyone fed and content? Really?

        All you men out there: if you don’t get a chance to commiserate with your bro’s, do you at least watch football for three hours or go for a run, play the drums, listen to rock and roll, or do something to relieve your stress? What works for you? How do you stay content so you don’t lash out at your loved ones? What works well for you?

        Please share.

  2. Frankly

    I’m a bit ticked off at the anti-police tone of this and some comments.

    I would not quote any women’s movement source for anything related to statistics on domestic violence as the leaders of the women’s movement tend to be misandrists or man-hating lesbians and many of them have gone on record to say things like “All men are rapists”.  And “To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo.”

    But I don’t dispute that rates of domestic conflict are higher for our men and women working in law enforcement.

    Their suicide rates are also off the charts compared to the civilian population.

    The easy to assume reason is the high levels of stress on the job, plus the social and emotional imprinting that occurs dealing with the dregs and low-life of society.

    But much of the stress is unnecessary.  It comes from a minority group of people afflicted with a general dislike of paternal authority gene that believe that harassing cops at every encounter and saddling them with constant complaints and law suits is justified and righteous… even though there is scant evidence it improves policing, and greater evidence it contributes to the high stress rates for cops that lead to their high suicide rate.

    1. Davis Progressive

      you make a lot of excuses for groups you support that you would never make for groups you oppose.

      there is no anti-police tone, there is empirical evidence to support it.  if there are reasons for the high divorce and domestic violence, then it’s perhaps surprising that there also aren’t support groups to help police officers manage the stress of their jobs.  it’s appalling to me that people sworn to protect and uphold the law can’t do so in their personal lives.

      ” It comes from a minority group of people afflicted with a general dislike of paternal authority gene that believe that harassing cops at every encounter and saddling them with constant complaints and law suits is justified and righteous”

       

      that’s nothing more than a bs excuse and you know it.

      1. Frankly

        I don’t need to make excuses for all the victims groups… there are plenty of people doing that.

        it’s perhaps surprising that there also aren’t support groups to help police officers manage the stress of their jobs.

        Do you understand the daily stress of knowing you are likely to have to fight, and you need to project the authority to talk someone out of trying, and then if you can’t you must prevail in the fight?   You have to project toughness.

        And how can you project toughness if you let on that you cannot handle the stress?

        But I agree, cops need more support.

        it’s appalling to me that people sworn to protect and uphold the law can’t do so in their personal lives

        Name one other effing profession that you would demand the same from.  Politicians?  Lawyers?  Teachers?  And why does what they do in their personal lives suddenly become your business and a justification to connect it to their professional life?

        I’m sure in your work capacity I could dig through your personal life and start challenging your fitfulness for duty based on what I found.  But then maybe it would not be relevant.

        1. Davis Progressive

          “Do you understand the daily stress of knowing you are likely to have to fight, and you need to project the authority to talk someone out of trying, and then if you can’t you must prevail in the fight?   You have to project toughness.”

          i think this is part of the problem, an outdated notion of policing.

          “And how can you project toughness if you let on that you cannot handle the stress?”

          this is fascinating, but wrongheaded.  so by not letting on that you cannot handle the stress, you prove you can’t handle the stress.

          “Name one other effing profession that you would demand the same from. ”

          i’m toughest on my own profession.  but it’s also part of my job to oversee law enforcement.

          “nd why does what they do in their personal lives suddenly become your business and a justification to connect it to their professional life?”

          because you’re never not a cop.  you can’t enforce a law with any legitimacy if you break it.

          “I’m sure in your work capacity I could dig through your personal life and start challenging your fitfulness for duty based on what I found.”

          i doubt it.

  3. Biddlin

    Frankly, predictable, because you are.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/09/police-officers-who-hit-their-wives-or-girlfriends/380329/
    Police Have a Much Bigger Domestic-Abuse Problem Than the NFL Does
     Conor Friedersdorf  Sep 19 2014, 6:00 AM ET
      (Conor is male and a self-identified conservative.)
    “I’d urge everyone who believes in zero tolerance for NFL employees caught beating their wives or girlfriends to direct as much attention—or ideally, even more attention—at police officers who assault their partners. Several studies have found that the romantic partners of police officers suffer domestic abuse at rates significantly higher than the general population. And while all partner abuse is unacceptable, it is especially problematic when domestic abusers are literally the people that battered and abused women are supposed to call for help.

    If there’s any job that domestic abuse should disqualify a person from holding, isn’t it the one job that gives you a lethal weapon, trains you to stalk people without their noticing, and relies on your judgment and discretion to protect the abused against domestic abusers?”

     

    ;>)/

      1. Biddlin

        “Presence on this list implies merely that, to the best of our knowledge, charges were filed against the people in question, or in some cases, a civil suit. It is not meant to imply guilt, and in fact many of the individuals listed may have been found innocent of said charges or claims.”

        From Ozzy’s profile: ”  Domestic Violence Sep-1989, no charges filed”

        It’s that reading comprehension issue, again.

        But then NNDB is a misnomer, since it isn’t a database, more like a compiler, with obviously dubious accuracy.

        Like all of your citations, total balderdash.

        Why do you feel so compelled to defend abusers and  rapists?

        ;>)/

         

        1. Frankly

          Why do you feel so compelled to defend abusers and rapists?

          I don’t.  Like you I feel compelled to prevent destructive and harmful group stereotypes that are unfounded.

          And I am a strong advocate for cops and strong males since it is always open season on them even as they enable their attackers enjoy their good lives.

           

  4. Tia Will

    Frankly

    “with a general dislike of paternal authority gene”

    Maybe you could tell me which chromosome that this gene is located on so that I can look it up ?

     

  5. Tia Will

    Frankly

    “I completely disagree with this somewhat derogatory, sexist and anti-cop-biased theory.”

    I believe that you are being overly sensitive. First, I offered an alternative explanation and stated that I believe that it also applies to doctors. So unless you believe that I am also being derogatory about doctors ( and I assurre that I am not) I don’t believe that you have any basis for the first claim.

    You also have no basis for a claim of sexism. Cops can be either men or women.  Both can have the I am in charge here mentality. Both men and women these days can have wives. I actually have had more negative interactions with women police than I have with men. So much for sexism.

    And as for anti cop. Not at all. It is anti domestic violence perpetrator. If that happens to be a cop, so be it. No special treatment for those who break the law, cop or not cop.

     

  6. Frankly

    I believe that you are being overly sensitive.

    Ouch… now that really hurt!

    It is anti domestic violence perpetrator. If that happens to be a cop,

    So, rhetorically, how would you respond if I posted stats about crime and made, or even inferred, the point that blacks are more violent?

    Or how about I make the point that doctors tend to over-prescribe drugs using reports about all the people addicted to prescription drugs?

    I guess it is only the groups you really care about that make you recoil from the negative stereotyping.

  7. Tia Will

    Frankly
    “the point that blacks are more violent?”
    You have many times, usually in defense of stop and frisk laws. My response has been to tell you that I disagree with your stereotypes not to call you names and say that you are ignorant or stupid or brain washed or a racist or any of the terms that you like to throw at others.
    “Or how about I make the point that doctors tend to over-prescribe drugs using reports about all the people addicted to prescription drugs?”
    I would agree with you that this has been a significant problem for many in the medical profession.

    One major difference between our world views is that I do not have a black and white mentality. I can admit that human beings, regardless of their race, their job, their wealth or lack thereof, are capable of both desirable and undesirable behaviors.

    I believe that it is the behavior that should be judged, not whether or not the person doing the action is or is not a member of your favored group.

     

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