Fire captain sentenced for injuring girlfriend during argument

SAN DIEGO — A 30-year veteran of the San Diego fire department who shoved his girlfriend against a wall and wouldn’t let her call for help after she was injured was sentenced Wednesday to three years probation.

Steven Michaels was also ordered to complete 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling and serve 180 days at a county parole and alternative custody program.

Before sentencing, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walsh, citing Michaels’  history of alcohol abuse and domestic violence arrests dating back to 2006, denied a defense motion to reduce the defendant’s felony conviction to a misdemeanor.

Stevens, now a fire captain, pleaded guilty in November to felony domestic violence. The 54-year-old defendant was ordered to continue to stay away from his girlfriend.

Deputy District Attorney Stephen Marquardt told the judge that Michaels refused to acknowledge his wrongdoing in the confrontation last July 21 and was a risk to re-offend.

For his part, Stevens said he was sorry for the alcohol-fueled altercation.

“I was a bad person, I was a bad boyfriend,” the defendant said. “The truth is it was an argument. I am very sorry for being a bad boyfriend.”

Defense attorney Gretchen von Helms told the judge that Stevens has taken positive steps to get better.

“His whole life he wanted to be a firefighter,” the attorney said, noting his career could be “swept away” if the felony was not reduced to a misdemeanor.

A psychiatrist told the judge that Stevens had been self-medicating with alcohol for post traumatic stress disorder after he witnesses two of his firefighters get stabbed on the job.

“He loves his job. It’s his whole identity,” von Helms told the court.

The victim, identified as Jane Doe, said Stevens did not beat her and had “genuine regret” for what happened.

“Steve is a good man,” she said.