FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --A former Fresno police officer accused of child abuse is not guilty of the crime. A jury found Jesse Ruelas did not abuse the 14-year-old girl who reported him.
Ruelas couldn't quite hold back tears as he got a big dose of good news after a year of struggles. A 14-year-old girl had accused him of hitting her so hard, she suffered a mild concussion. He called it discipline. Prosecutors called it abuse.
"This wasn't reasonable punishment. In fact, this wasn't punishment at all. This was pure anger,' said Nicole Galstan, Prosecutor.
After deliberating for less than an hour, jurors found Ruelas not guilty.
He didn't want to talk to our reporter, but released a statement through his attorney saying, "I served my country and my community. I loved being a Fresno police officer. That's all I ever wanted to do."
And this verdict could be a big step in getting Ruelas back in uniform.
"I can't crystal ball that, but hopefully, it will have an effect such that the department takes a second look at it. I mean, he's a good police officer. He's been a good police officer," said Roger Wilson, Ruelas' Defense Attorney.
Ruelas is still facing a weapons possession charge connected to a criminal protective order from the abuse case, but his attorney seems confident he'll beat that charge too.
The 18-year police veteran and former Marine also hopes to reconcile with his family, although this time, he may do things differently.
"All parents know that things happen and they make a decision given what they have to work with. He did that and it wasn't a crime. Will he change his approach? Probably. You know more, you do better," said Wilson.
Ruelas will be back in court in two weeks on the other case.