Christian Tapia battery conviction

In this screenshot from Hartnell College's Facebook account, Christian Tapia-Leon is sworn in as an officer of the Greenfield Police Department in 2016.

Greenfield Police Department has fired an officer who was convicted of misdemeanor battery for physically attacking his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend.

Christian Tapia-Leon pleaded no contest to the charge on Wednesday, April 5. He received a 30-day stipulated jail sentence, which he is eligible to serve via home confinement, as well as one year of probation, the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday, April 6. Tapia-Leon, 31, was initially arrested on a felony assault charge last June in relation to the incident.

Greenfield Police Chief Guillermo Mixer initially said in a statement Thursday that Tapia-Leon would remain on unpaid administrative leave pending an internal investigation. But Greenfield PD subsequently updated the statement later in the day, informing that Tapia-Leon “is no longer employed with our department.” Tapia-Leon will also be decertified as a peace officer through the state’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST).

“We take all matters of personnel conduct very seriously and have taken appropriate action in this situation,” Greenfield PD said in its updated statement. “We hold our officers to the highest standards of professionalism and integrity, and we will not tolerate any behavior that violates these standards.”

The battery conviction means that, under state law, Tapia-Leon is prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm for 10 years. The firearm prohibition would have made it difficult for Tapia-Leon, who joined the Greenfield PD in 2016, to continue as a member of the police force, Monterey County Chief Assistant District Attorney Berkley Brannon tells the Weekly.

“It was important for us to get this particular conviction because it means this officer can’t carry a gun—and you can’t be a police officer without carrying a gun,” Brannon says. 

An attorney for Tapia-Leon did not immediately return a request for comment.

According to prosecutors, Tapia-Leon attacked the victim on May 1 after learning through a Snapchat video that his girlfriend “was attending a family party also attended by her ex-boyfriend” in Gonzales. Tapia-Leon took a screenshot of the ex-boyfriend and texted it to his girlfriend along with “multiple vulgarities.”

Tapia-Leon, who was off-duty at the time, and a friend then showed up at the party in Gonzales, where Tapia-Leon “stormed through the house, into the backyard and immediately attacked the ex-boyfriend,” punching him “multiple times” in front of bystanders, according to the DA’s office. The victim suffered a bump and bruising on his head and did not seek medical attention.

Gonzales police were subsequently called to the scene. Upon their arrival, Tapia-Leon “repeatedly lied to officers” about what transpired, insisting that no fight had occurred despite five witnesses stating otherwise, prosecutors said. Tapia-Leon then “changed his story,” claiming that people at the party had attacked his friend and that he was trying to get his friend out of the house. The friend, meanwhile, told officers that Tapia-Leon was upset about the ex-boyfriend’s presence at the party and had attacked the ex.

According to the DA’s office, Tapia-Leon called the owner of the Gonzales home the following day and informed him that his supervisor, a Greenfield police sergeant, would interview him about the incident. Tapia-Leon asked the homeowner to lie about the altercation and say that he was only breaking up the fight. While the homeowner initially agreed, he later admitted to police that he had lied to the sergeant at Tapia-Leon’s request.

Tapia-Leon’s no contest plea means that while he accepts the criminal charge, he is freed from the legal liability of a guilty plea that could potentially be used against him in a civil lawsuit related to the incident.

Prior to the incident and his arrest last year, Tapia-Leon was detained by Watsonville police in November 2020 on domestic violence charges. Those charges were later dismissed during a preliminary hearing.

UPDATE, April 7: This article has been updated to reflect that Greenfield Police Department has terminated Christian Tapia-Leon’s employment.

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