A San Diego police officer who pleaded not guilty Tuesday to multiple counts of sexual misconduct, plans to turn in his badge. NBC 7's Sherene Tagharobi reports.
A San Diego Police Department officer accused of sexual battery and misconduct on the job is no longer employed at the department, SDPD Lt. Kevin Mayer confirmed Wednesday.
"Officer Christopher Hays no longer works for the San Diego Police Department, effective today, February 19, 2014," Lt. Mayer told NBC 7 in statement around 2:45 p.m.
"At this time, this is the only statement the Department will be making regarding this issue," Lt. Mayer continued.
On Tuesday, Hays was formally charged with two felony counts of false imprisonment with violence and three misdemeanor counts of sexual battery involving four women. His attorney, Kerry Armstrong, said the officer would be resigning from the SDPD.
Armstrong said his client feels betrayed by the police department and there’s nothing left to do but leave his job.
“He’s going to resign, either late today or tomorrow,” said Armstrong. “He’s not going to resign because he did anything wrong. He’s extremely upset with the police department for not backing him in this case. It’s really hurt him. He’s very upset about it and thinks his career in law enforcement is over because of these allegations.”
Armstrong said he and his client take issue with the department’s investigation into the accusations of sexual misconduct involving Hays.
“It is my understanding that once the first female made this allegation, the police department either called or sent letters out to these other women he had contacted. To me, that’s a big red flag,” said Armstrong. “Obviously, I want to see what the letter said, hear what the officers said to the women when they called them. Obviously, that would be a huge part of this case.”
Armstrong said his client maintains his innocence, regardless of the accusations and charges.
“All I know is that he’s adamant that he didn’t do anything wrong in this case,” the attorney said, standing next to Hays.
On Feb. 6, SDPD Chief William Lansdowne confirmed an officer was under investigation for sexual misconduct on the job involving four women. The chief said this alleged misconduct included improper pat downs of female detainees, resulting in sexual gratification for the officer.
On Feb. 9, the same day Hays was booked into San Diego County Jail on charges of false imprisonment and sexual battery, Lansdowne confirmed five alleged victims had contacted police to accuse Hays, while another woman went to local attorney Dan Gilleon with her accusations.
Lansdowne said Hays had been on unpaid leave and relieved of his duties as an officer, pending the investigation.
Armstrong said the handling of the investigation into Hays by the SDPD has been flawed from the onset.
“Chief Lansdowne has been on TV calling these women victims. To me, they’re only victims if a jury of 12 people says they’re victims. At this point, the police department is supposed to be fair, unbiased when they do their investigations. And, yet, the head of the police department is saying that these women are victims, and that upsets my client,” said Armstrong.
At this point, the attorney said Hays feels like the victim in this ordeal.
“He’s upset that he’s not getting the support that he wants,” the attorney added. “The police department is not backing him like he thought they would.”
For his arraignment Tuesday, Hays arrived at the San Diego County Courthouse with his wife Erica by his side. Her father is an assistant San Diego police chief.
Armstrong said Erica supports Hays and is “100 percent behind her husband.”
The officer’s wife had her arm around her husband’s shoulders before he was called up before a judge. Prior to the arraignment, the pair walked hand-in-hand into the courthouse alongside Hays’ attorney.
A judge ordered Hays to keep away from the four “Jane Does” who’ve accused him of unlawful behavior during or after traffic stops.
Armstrong believes the allegations could be a mistake.
“I think it’s either a fabrication or a mistake. That they were just mistaken about the way they were frisked, things like that,” he said.
The prosecutor handling the case declined to elaborate on the acts involved in the charges. In a press conference early Tuesday, San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said Hays “abused the public trust.”
Dumanis said the alleged acts involving Hays and the four women happened between Oct. 30 and Dec. 24, 2013.
If convicted on all counts, Hays could face up to three years and eight months in prison. A preliminary hearing in the case is slated for Apr. 22.