San Diego police officer suspected of mistreating women is arrested

SAN DIEGO - A suspended San Diego police officer was arrested Sunday on suspicion of sexual battery and false imprisonment of women while on duty.

Christopher Hays, 30, decorated for bravery in 2012, was arrested at 1:30 p.m. after voluntarily surrendering.


He was booked into county jail on suspicion of three misdemeanor counts of sexual battery and two felony counts of false imprisonment with violence, according to jail records. The arrest was announced by Chief Bill Lansdowne.

"This officer, if the allegations prove true, will go to prison," Lansdowne said.

Hays was released on $130,000 bail, according to jail records.

He received a medal in 2012 for dashing into a burning building to save a woman who was trapped on the  second floor. He also served with the Marines in Iraq as a lance corporal. He has been on the police department for four years.

At least five women have accused Hays of assaulting them while they were being searched, Lansdowne said.

One of the incidents allegedly occurred during a domestic violence call.  Others involved a shoplifting suspect, a homeless woman and a woman interviewed during a street patrol.

The first allegation was made in December when a woman came to the Police  Department. Investigation then revealed other incidents, Lansdowne  said.

Hays is married and the father of two. His father-in-law, Mark Jones, is an assistant chief with the San Diego department.

Hays was suspended in mid-January as the district attorney reviewed the police investigation to determine whether criminal charges would be filed.

Lansdowne said last week that the department, after an internal affairs investigation, was close to firing Hays.

The case marks the second time in recent years that a San Diego officer has been accused of assaulting women while on duty.

In 2011, Officer Anthony Arevalos was convicted of demanding sexual  favors from women after making traffic stops. He was sentenced to eight years  and eight months in prison. He was fired after the accusations were  made.

The City Council has approved a total of $2.3 million in payments to women  assaulted by Arevalos. One case has gone to trial.

Twitter: @LATsandiego