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City Council OKs $1M To Victims Of Ex-San Diego Cop

Christopher Hays at a hearing on April 22, 2014.
Christopher Hays at a hearing on April 22, 2014.

The City Council Tuesday approved nearly $1 million in legal settlements to two women abused by a former San Diego police officer, who later pleaded guilty to criminal charges and spent five months behind bars.

A woman who alleged that she suffered personal injuries in an encounter with ex-SDPD Officer Christopher Hays on Oct. 31, 2013, will receive $550,000. The other woman, who claimed emotional injuries from her interactions with Hays on June 12 of that year, settled for $400,000.

The settlements were given a tentative go-ahead by the City Council in closed session last month. Final approval came on a 7-1 vote, with Councilman David Alvarez dissenting. None of the council members commented.

Hays pleaded guilty last August 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 in jail — but was released early.

Three women testified earlier last year that they were groped while being searched by the four-year SDPD veteran, who resigned the day after he was charged.

One woman told the judge that she has trouble sleeping in her own bed after Hays followed her to her apartment and had her expose her breasts and told her to touch his groin.

A fourth woman also said Hays groped her after her arrest for shoplifting.

Deputy District Attorney Annette Irving said Hays was banking on the notion that his victims would never tell 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."

In April, the City Council approved two other settlements — one for $1.25 million and the other for $60,000 — with women who sued as a result of their encounters with Hays.

The actions by Hays and ex-Officer Anthony Arevalos led to a federal investigation of the San Diego Police Department. Of 40 recommendations made to strengthen policies designed to prevent officer misconduct, 21 have been implemented and the rest are in the process of being implemented, according to an SDPD report.

Arevalos was convicted of demanding sexual favors from women stopped for suspected drunken driving in the Gaslamp Quarter.

"What former police officers Hays and Arevalos did was criminal and an affront to the victims, to the other police officers who do their jobs well and to all San Diegans," City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said in a statement released late this morning. "I welcome Chief Zimmerman's commitment to implement all reforms suggested by the Department of Justice without delay to ensure that we don't get another Hays or Arevalos in SDPD."

In other action today, the council approved separate payments totaling nearly $1.2 million to a couple whose home was damaged by a pair of water main breaks in October and November 2013, and to their insurer.

About two-thirds of that sum will go to Chad Farmer and Jami Glassman and the remainder to Chartis Property Casualty Co.