Police sergeant resigns after pleading guilty to domestic violence

SAN DIEGO -- An off-duty San Diego police sergeant who injured his girlfriend during a night out in the Gaslamp District pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.

Oscar Armenta, 42, was immediately sentenced to three years probation and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service. His attorney said the 13-year veteran will resign from the police department at the end of the month.

"He's an outstanding cop,'' defense attorney Rick Pinckard said outside court. "This was a judgment error. He's got a very stressful job. (There's) a lot of pressure in the job that he does, (there's) pressure and stress in the job that his girlfriend does, and you just sometimes never know how that stress and pressure is going to manifest.''

Chief Shelley Zimmerman confirmed that Armenta was leaving the force.

"Oscar Armenta pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence charges today and has subsequently tendered his resignation to the San Diego Police Department," she said in a written statement. "As I stated back in July, when this investigation first began, we hold ourselves to the highest standards and take the conduct of our employees very seriously."

As part of probation, Armenta was ordered to violate no laws and complete a 52-week domestic violence recovery program.

Judge Dan Link ordered the defendant to have no negative contact with the victim, even though she didn't want the order and is standing by Armenta. The judge also ordered a 10-year federal firearm prohibition.

“The difference is the ultimate penalty or punishment is that he’s been placed on probation, but should he violate probation, the maximum amount of time he could get would be one year,” said Deputy District Attorney Melissa Diaz.

Police said the assault took place July 3 about 8:30 p.m. in the 700 block of Island Avenue. A witness said he saw Armenta punch a woman in the face, then he and another good Samaritan tried to tackle the defendant.

One of the good Samaritans aggravated a pre-existing injury in the scuffle, said Deputy District Attorney Melissa Diaz.

Armenta -- who had no prior record -- was placed on leave after the incident.

His attorney says pleading guilty Tuesday will help his client move forward.

“He’s an outstanding cop. This was a judgment error, and you’ve got a very stressful job, a lot of pressure in the job that he does, a lot of pressures and stress on the job that his girlfriend does, and sometimes you just never know how that stress and pressure is going to manifest,” said Armenta's Defense Attorney Rick Pinckard.