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Santa Barbara Police Investigating Handling Of Arrest Of Suspected DUI Driver

Posted on Monday, October 24, 2011 3:27pm

Santa Barbara Police are saying they are investigating the handling of a DUI arrest Friday night, which led to a violent confrontation between the suspect and police which was witnessed by a number of stunned onlookers.

It happened just before 10 p.m. Friday.  An officer saw a pickup truck leave Hendry’s Beach, and says the vehicle made a a number of lane changes without signalling.  The officer pulled over the vehicle in Loreto Plaza.

Police say the driver, Tony Denunzio, left the truck, but was ordered to get back inside.  They say he began to walk away.  The officer tried to grab the man by the elbow, and when Denuzio tried to pull away, the officer says he tried to get him on the ground, and handcuff him.

There was a struggle, and  police say the officer hit the man several times in the back of the head with his palm, but that the Santa Barbara man continued to resist arrest.  The officer deployed his Taser, and it had no effect.  Police say the 50 year old man was finally arrested after an officer stunned him by kneeing him in the face.

Denuzio suffered a broken nose, and bruises.  Police say he’s facing DUI, resisting arrest, and unlicensed driver charges.  They say he also violated probation as a result of the incident.  Department officials say the patrol car involved in the incident was one equipped with a camera system the department is testing, and that Police Chief Cam Sanchez is reviewing the tape to see if further investigation of the handing of the incident is warranted.  Some witness told media outlets that they thought officers assaulted the man after he had stopped resisting.

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