It is good to see this case being resolved. I hate seeing money going away as a taxpayer. There is more guilt here than officer Arevalos. Acts like these will happen but more needs to be done within the department to police themselves.
We as citizens give police so much power. They need to respect the power we still retain.
The City Council agreed Tuesday to pay nearly $1 million to two women who claimed they were sexually abused by a former San Diego police officer who served five months behind bars in connection with the accusations.
One of the women, referred to as Jane Doe, will receive $550,000 for an incident she said happened on Oct. 30, 2013. She contended then-Officer Christopher Hays “squeezed and groped” her repeatedly for more than 20 minutes during a pat down. Hays then demanded she pat him down, according to her lawsuit.
She said she complied because she feared he would arrest her if she did not.
Hays pleaded guilty to a felony charge of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor charges of assault under the color of authority in August 2014 and served five months in prison. His charges stemmed from the accusations of three women, including Jane Doe.
The other woman will receive $400,000 related to an incident she said happened on June 12, 2013. The San Diego Union-Tribune is not identifying her because she is an alleged victim of a sex crime. Attorney Dan Gilleon, who represented her, said Hays blocked her into a bedroom, exposed himself and began masturbating. The officer had gone to the home in response to a domestic-violence call.
The woman’s allegations were not among the accusations that resulted in charges against Hays.
Both settlements were approved by the City Council during closed sessions in June. In March, the council voted to pay $1.3 million to two other women who also sued the city following encounters with Hays.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said in a statement about the settlements that Hays’ behavior “was criminal and an affront to the victims, to the other police officers who do their jobs well and to all San Diegans.”
Attorney Brian Watkins, who is representing Jane Doe, said his client is happy the litigation is behind her.
“That’s a big step in the healing process, to put this whole matter behind her,” he said. “She can’t go back in time to undo it.”
Gilleon said the settlement doesn’t absolve the department from its role in officer corruption.
“It encapsulates what was wrong with the San Diego Police Department then and what is still wrong with the SDPD,” he said.
Former Police Chief William Lansdowne requested a federal audit in February 2014 following cases of misconduct within the department, which included Hays’ actions. The yearlong investigation found serious flaws that allowed those cases to go undetected for months, sometimes years.
In one high-profile case, Officer Anthony Arevalos was convicted of soliciting sexual favors from women during traffic stops. His misconduct cost the city more than $8 million in payouts to victims, including a $5.9 million settlement reached last September that marked the end of the final lawsuit against the disgraced former officer.
The audit, by the Police Executive Research Forum, suggested 40 improvements the department could make. Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said the agency will act on all of them. At a public safety committee meeting last week, she said more than half of the recommendations have been implemented, and progress continues on 19 suggestions.
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