City may pay to defend ex-cop against lawsuits
SAN DIEGO — The City Attorney’s Office is asking for as much as $250,000 to retain outside counsel to defend former San Diego police Officer Christopher Hays against any lawsuits filed by women who contend he groped and illegally detained them, city documents show.
The City Council is scheduled to take up the request at its meeting on Tuesday.
The City Attorney’s Office cites a conflict of interest for its request to hire the law firm of Haight, Brown & Bonesteel.
So far, Hays faces one federal lawsuit involving three plaintiffs. The city defends employees against litigation for their actions while the workers were on duty.
Hays, 30, pleaded guilty Aug. 22 to felony false imprisonment and misdemeanor counts of assault and battery under the color of authority by a peace officer. The ex-officer faces up to a year in jail and will be placed on probation. He remains free on $130,000 bail pending sentencing on Sept. 26.
Defense attorney Kerry Armstrong said Hays pleaded guilty under a section of the law that allows a defendant to plead guilty not because he committed the crimes, but because it was in his best interest.
Before the plea bargain, Hays was looking at nearly four years in prison if convicted.
Three women testified in April that they were groped and forced to perform inappropriate acts after being contacted and searched by Hays, a four- year SDPD veteran who resigned the day after he was charged in February.
A fourth woman also claimed Hays groped her after her arrest for shoplifting, according to SDPD Detective Cory Gilmore.