A Menlo Park man faces a possible battery charge after he allegedly threw a cup of hot coffee on a Palo Alto traffic enforcement officer downtown last week.
The 56-year-old man allegedly became angry on Sept. 25 shortly before 7 p.m. after the traffic enforcement officer issued him a citation in the 600 block of Alma Street, police spokeswoman Lt. April Wagner said. He then threw the hot coffee, which splashed all over the officer.
The beverage did not scald the officer, who was not injured, Wagner said. The man was then cited for battery on a peace officer.
Wagner said that traffic enforcement officers have a hard time on the job because some people become angry when they receive a citation, but attacks on them still carry a hefty punishment. If convicted, a person who attacks a police officer or other protected person can be fined up to $2,000 or be sentenced to one year in county jail or both, according to state penal code.
"Protected persons" include custodial officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians or paramedics, process servers, employees of a probation department, and doctors and nurses providing emergency medical care.
If the officer or protected person is injured, the person who committed the attack can be fined up to $10,000 or be imprisoned in county jail for up to one year or both. If the assailant has a prior strike conviction or committed a serious or violent felony, they could face 16 months or two or three years in prison.
The law defines battery on a peace or police officer as willfully and unlawfully touching a peace officer or other protected official in a harmful or offensive manner while the officer is engaged in the performance of their duties, and if the person committing the act reasonably should have known the victim was a peace officer performing their duty.