Former LA Firefighter Gets 180-Days In Jail For Attack On Woman Who Fed Stray Cats

(FOX 11 / CNS) A former Los Angeles firefighter was sentenced today to 180 days in jail for assaulting a woman who fed stray cats in his West Adams neighborhood, but a judge agreed to allow him to remain free on bail while he appeals the case.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jose I. Sandoval also ordered Ian Justin Eulian, 39, to perform 25 days of Caltrans service, spend a year in anger management counseling and serve three years on formal probation.

"Based on everything I have before me, I think this is aberrant behavior," the judge said, while noting that it was a "crime of violence."

Eulian was convicted May 21 of one felony count each of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury, and jurors found true an allegation that he personally inflicted great bodily injury on Rebecca Stafford.

Eulian apologized to Stafford minutes before his sentence was handed down, turning to tell her, "I'm sorry."

He said his Sept. 14, 2013, confrontation with Stafford, which occurred while he was off duty, is in "no way representative of the way I am," adding that he was "not proud of my actions."

"My emotions got the best of me," he said.

"I've lost everything -- my reputation, my career ... Please allow me the chance to continue to provide for my family," said Eulian, whose attorney said outside court that Eulian had "resigned subject to expected termination."

Stafford thanked Eulian for his apology, saying she appreciated it and didn't have an opinion about whether he should have to serve time behind bars.

She said the biggest problem she had was "getting blamed for things that I didn't do" during the run-in, and that she had been afraid of going to the neighborhood market up until his apology because she believed she might run into Eulian there.

Deputy District Attorney Joshua Ritter asked the judge to impose a one-year jail term for the former firefighter, saying that he had "chosen a very admirable career" but his actions were "shockingly violent and callous" and had "rendered a woman unconscious."

The prosecution alleged that Eulian and his mother told Stafford that she tripped and hit her face on her vehicle. The two eventually helped her into her car and drove her home.

Defense attorney Robert Schwartz -- who had asked that his client not have to serve any jail time -- told the judge that Eulian had saved the lives of several people and had been commended for his bravery.

"When no one was watching, he did countless, righteous things," his attorney said, telling the judge that it is "devastating" to Eulian that he will never be a firefighter again.

He said his client has already begun anger management counseling. At the defense's request, the judge agreed to set bail at $20,000 to allow Eulian to remain free on bail pending his appeal.

During his first trial in 2014 in which jurors deadlocked on the charges, the prosecutor told jurors that Eulian was "blind with rage" when he pulled Stafford from her car and knocked her unconscious following a dispute in which she threw cat kibble at him.

The woman testified during the first trial that she remembered Eulian "reaching into my car and grabbing me. And I said, `Are you going to hit me?' and then it was like lights out. I don't remember anything until I woke up."

Stafford testified that she told Eulian multiple times during the confrontation to leave her alone and tried to assure him that she was not feeding the cats that day but just trying to catch one.

Eulian's attorney countered that his client was "coming to the defense and protection of his 70-year-old mother" during the confrontation with Stafford, telling jurors in the first trial that "it seems obvious that Ms. Stafford violently kicked Lonieta Fontaine."

Eulian testified in his own defense during the first trial, saying that he had spoken to Stafford about her habit of feeding the cats and that she told him she would feed the strays at the end of an alley.

But on Sept. 14, 2013, he spotted her again and the two got into an expletive-filled shouting match in the 2500 block of West View Street.

He testified that she threw cat kibble at him and kicked him, and that he tried to punch Stafford after she kicked his mother.

Eulian admitted trying to punch Stafford while she was inside her Jeep, but said he missed. He said he pulled her out of the vehicle "to stop her from abusing my mother."

He hit Stafford and she hit the ground, Eulian said.

Eulian's mother was initially charged with one count of accessory after the fact involving the run-in. But the prosecution decided not to go forward with a retrial against her to improve the "efficiency of the case," and that count was dismissed, according to the prosecutor.

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