The City Council Tuesday finalized two legal settlements worth a total of $1.56 million with women who sued the city for personal injuries stemming from encounters with San Diego Police Officers.
One of the lawsuits was filed by three women who claimed they were sexually abused during interactions with former Officer Christopher Hays in 2012. According to city documents, the City Council voted in closed session last month to settle with two of the plaintiffs — one for $1.25 million and another for $60,000.
Hays pleaded guilty last August to to false imprisonment and misdemeanor counts of assault and battery under the color of authority by a peace officer and was sentenced to one year behind bars.
Three women testified in his criminal case that they were groped and forced to perform inappropriate acts after being contacted and searched by the four-year SDPD veteran, who resigned the day after he was charged in February 2014. A fourth woman also said Hays groped her after her arrest for shoplifting.
One of the women told a judge she has trouble sleeping in her own bed since Hays followed her to her apartment and had her expose her breasts and told her to touch his groin. She called him “a disgrace to the uniform.”
Deputy District Attorney Annette Irving said Hays was banking on the notion that his victims would never reveal what he did to them. At his sentencing, Hays apologized to the victims and his family for any pain he caused, saying “It’s not something I’m very proud of.”
Councilman David Alvarez cast a dissenting vote against the settlement.
“I feel that this is not an issue we can continue to sweep under the rug,” Alvarez said. “The actions that have led to this settlement sicken me, and if the public would be able to see the facts behind this case, I think they would also see serious problems with this settlement and would not like to see this being swept under the rug.”
He praised the City Attorney’s Office’s handling of the case, however.
In the other case finalized by the council, a woman sued following a Feb. 4, 2013, encounter with ex-Officer Donald Moncrief. The council gave tentative approval last month to a $250,000 settlement with the woman.
She alleged that Moncrief, who patrolled South Bay communities, groped her and exposed himself after arresting her in 2013. He was not charged with any crimes, though he was placed on leave and eventually left the SDPD.
—City News Service