News23ABC I-Team Investigates


I-TEAM: 2019 body camera video released of off-duty BPD officer asleep with gun in lap at Studio Movie Grill

Body cam shows Officer Douglas Barrier at Studio Movie Grill
Body cam shows Officer Douglas Barrier at Studio Movie Grill
Body cam shows Officer Douglas Barrier at Studio Movie Grill
Posted at 5:43 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-30 18:29:04-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif.  — New body camera video, just released to 23ABC, shows the December 2019 night when Bakersfield Police officers responded to Studio Movie Grill for reports of a man asleep in a theater with a gun on his lap. It was eventually determined that the man who was asleep was an off-duty BPD officer.

Until now, the Bakersfield Police Department refused to release the body camera video.

It was December 19, 2019 which officers were called to the movie theater in Northwest Bakersfield and through our investigation we determined at least one person violated the BPD body-worn camera policy.

Body camera video shows multiple officers coming up with a plan to approach the man before moving in. Once they remove the gun from his lap, it appears they recognize who it is.

"Turn it off. Go outside, go outside," one officer said.

Bakersfield Police officer takes gun from officer Douglas Barrier

The man with the gun was off-duty Bakersfield Police Officer Douglas Barrier.

An officer wakes up Barrier as the others start to leave the theater.

For the first time, we're hearing officers question Barrier about what happened.

"We got a call of a male in a blue sweatshirt, with a gun on his lap in this theater. So we came here, they had to evacuate everybody out. Everybody out front right now. Luckily, the guys recognized it was you and just walked up and tried to wake you up. And you were, you were out. So was it an alcohol issue you think going on?" an officer asked Barrier.

"I drank more than I planned on and I'm embarrassed, it won't ever happen again and I'm sorry," said Barrier.

Bakersfield Police officer talks to officer Douglas Barrier

One of the officers who spoke to Barrier noted in a police report that Barrier "appeared disheveled in appearance", noted Barrier's "jeans were unzipped" and he could "smell the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath and person."

Documents also revealed Barrier only ordered one beer at the bar and it was the only drink he was served while at Studio Movie Grill.

Surveillance video 23ABC obtained in June shows Barrier ordering that beer at the bar. He's there for about 10 minutes before moving to a table. About 30 minutes after his arrival he heads into the theater to watch Frozen 2. He was found at the end of the movie.

After BPD got everything under control, people who were evacuated from the theater were allowed back in and Barrier was taken to jail.

Theater management on officer Douglas Barrier being found

Through our investigation -- 23ABC determined multiple officers shut off or muted their body cameras during the incident.

According to the Bakersfield Police Department's Body-Worn Camera Policy in 2019, "Personnel are directed that the overarching goal of the BWC program is to obtain a complete and uninterrupted recording of the described encounters in order to depict an objective account of the entirety of each incident. Once activated, personnel shall not deactivate their BWC device unless directed by a supervisor or upon entering their vehicle to leave the scene, unless a deactivation exemption applies."

Those deactivation exemptions "include but are not limited to":

  • health care provider discussing medical issues with a patient
  • while in a hospital waiting for an arrestee to be medically cleared
  • during encounters with confidential informants or citizen informants
  • or when it reasonably appears that the privacy of an individual being recorded may outweigh any legitimate law enforcement interest

The policy also specifies that the reason for muting or deactivated a body-worn camera shall be verbalized prior to doing so.

Several of the body-worn camera videos 23ABC looked at don't give any reason at all for turning them off.

Through our investigation, we only hear one person who announces he's about to have an administrative conversation, which is within policy, prior to muting his camera.

23ABC reached out to the police department about the possible policy violation.

After we brought it to their attention, Bakersfield police watched the video and told 23ABC one person appears to violate the body-worn camera policy, but officials would not say who.

In a statement, BOD Sergeant Robert Pair said, "I watched the body camera footage and inquired with our Internal Affairs unit. I was advised that no one else is on administrative leave, and that any other related punishments or administrative investigations are a personnel matter and I cannot discuss any outcomes under POBAR (Police Officer Bill of Rights)."

The public intoxication charge against Officer Douglas Barrier was dismissed in July of this year after he completed a deferred entry of judgment program. As of today, the department says he remains on paid leave while the administrative investigation continues.

We asked BPD Chief Greg Terry for an interview regarding the policy violation of the body-worn camera, we were told he will not be commenting because the administrative investigation into the initial incident is still ongoing.

We also reached out to Barrier through BPD for a comment and he did not want to provide a statement.

If you can't see the document, you can find it here: Bakersfield Police Department Body Worn Camera Policy