A police officer in Bakersfield, California is under investigation for inappropriately touching the body of dead man, fellow officers claim.
The incident began on November 13 when police shot and killed unarmed 22-year-old Ramiro James Villegas after he allegedly reached towards his waistband following a car chase.
According to The Bakersfield Californian, 35-year-old Senior Officer Aaron Stringer was seen tickling the feet and grasping the head of Villegas “as he lay in a gurney covered in a blood-soaked white sheet.”
While mocking Villegas, Stringer then turned to his colleagues and stated that he loved “playing with dead bodies,” an internal report says.
Following the incident, Stringer took police trainee Lindy DeGeare to the Kern Medical Center and allegedly began playing with Villegas’ mouth.
“DeGeare, at the time in her 11th week of training, said she believed Stringer made the suggestion for training purposes as she had only seen two other dead bodies,” the article states. “Stringer touched the bottom of Villegas’ feet and said ‘tickle tickle,’ the reports say DeGeare told investigators.”
“She said it was at this point Stringer told her he ‘loves playing with dead bodies’ and laughed, according to the reports.”
After leaving the hospital, Stringer volunteered to return once again after investigators requested a fingerprint identification device. That is when DeGeare says she was told by Stringer to lie about seeing the body previously.
“I just knew it was wrong, what was going on, and I should have said something at the time,” DeGeare told investigators after coming forward.
DeGeare also stated that Stringer had later bragged about “popping” Villegas’ toes during his visit to the hospital.
Police Chief Greg Williamson, who placed Stringer on paid administrative leave in November, called the incident “disturbing” in response to last week’s media attention.
Although viewing bodies is part of officer training, touching them is not, Williamson added.
Mark Geragos, attorney to the Villegas family, is calling for Stringer to be immediately fired and prosecuted after a proper investigation by a third party party.
Thus far, Assistant District Attorney Scott Spielman has refused to file charges claiming “insufficient evidence” as the reasoning. Prosecutors have seemingly justified Stringer’s actions by merely focusing on whether or not his actions disturbed the crime scene and not on the disturbing behavior itself.
The Bakersfield Californian also detailed Stringer’s previous run-ins with the law as an officer, which included an arrest for a “wet and reckless” charge as well as suspicion of driving under the influence of a drug and hit-and-run resulting in property damage.
If the multiple eye-witness reports are correct, Stringer’s dark behavior highlights the morbid disconnect among law enforcement’s most corrupt.