LAPD officer pleads ‘no contest’ in connection with Whittier party assault case

LOS ANGELES — An off-duty Los Angeles police officer accused of punching another man and breaking his jaw in an unprovoked attack at a Whittier house party has pleaded “no contest” to a misdemeanor charge, authorities said.
Under a negotiated plea agreement during a hearing Monday, Donald Albert Peko, 36, admitted a single count of disturbing the peace, while a count of felony battery was dismissed, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Horwitz immediately sentenced Peko to two years of summary probation, Robison said. He was further ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and obey a court order to stay away from the victim, then-23-year-old Christopher Price.
Prosecutors said Peko was attending a family party July 23, 2011, when he told the victim he could not leave the party with an open container of alcohol.
When Price began drinking to finish the bottle, Peko was accused of punching him “without warning,” breaking his jaw, D.A.’s officials said in a written statement.
After an investigation that lasted more than four months, prosecutors filed charges against Peko in December of 2012. Whittier police conducted the investigation.
Peko’s status with the LAPD was unclear Thursday.
“It’s a personnel matter,” CHP Officer Bruce Borihanh of the LAPD’s media relations section said. “We don’t discuss personnel matters.”
In general, he added, a police officer convicted of a crime is kept off of patrol duties until an administrative hearing is held to make a determination regarding employment.

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