Man hanged himself in jail after being sentenced for punching cop, authorities say

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SAN DIEGO —  Authorities Monday released the name of a man who hanged himself in his jail cell less than 24 hours after being sentenced to seven years in prison of assaulting a police officer during a rally last winter in Barrio Logan.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office identified the inmate as 39-year-old Frederik Jefferson of San Diego.

Sheriff’s deputies found Jefferson unresponsive in his cell September 1 around 2:15 a.m. 

Preliminary autopsy reports indicate Jefferson’s cause of death was suicide by hanging, San Diego Sheriff’s Department said.

“Jefferson was the only person inside his secured cell at the time of his death, and there were no other injuries noted,” sheriff’s Lt. Rich Williams said.

Personnel with the medical examiner’s office were unable to locate Jefferson’s next of kin.

Jefferson had been sentenced a day earlier to seven years in state prison for repeatedly punching San Diego police Matthew Ruggiero on the morning of Feb. 3.

Jefferson attacked Ruggiero after the lawman told him to stop walking in the middle of Logan Avenue near a gathering of protesters and counter- protesters who were facing off over a dispute about displaying the U.S. flag at Chicano Park. Jefferson struggled with at least five other officers before being taken to the ground and handcuffed.

Ruggiero, who suffered a fractured nose and cheekbone in the assault, spoke to the defendant during the sentencing hearing, describing him as an “irate, violent person” who changed the officer’s life forever.

“He destroyed my face with a single punch,” Ruggiero told Judge Leo Valentine Jr.

The defendant, for his part, contended that he had acted in self-defense.

Jefferson also had been charged in Baltimore with the alleged 2009 rape of an 18-year-old, a prosecutor told the judge.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Unit at (858) 285-6330/after hours at (858) 565-5200. You can also remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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