BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin responded Thursday morning after his assistant police chief was placed on leave pending a new domestic violence investigation.
Chief Martin said the investigation highlights that regardless of rank or position the Bakersfield Police Department will continue to hold everyone accountable for their behavior. He did say this has impacted morale of the department and this is just the first step in the investigation.
"From a moral standpoint, people are disappointed. I mean you have somebody in senior leadership, your one step away from leading the organization. Every employee has heard from me you're required to hold each other accountable and I think this shows to everyone in here that I am absolutely serious about that," said Martin. "And organizationally from the first patrol officer who showed up on the scene to the watch commander who realized what we had to the investigators, they all lived up to my expectations."
Assistant Police Chief Evan Demestihas, was placed on administrative leave Wednesday after an alleged domestic violence incident took place at the VIP Lounge on California Avenue.
According to Bakersfield Police on Wednesday around 12 a.m. officers were called to the Lounge's parking lot to check the status of a woman’s well being. When investigators arrived they found that the woman was a victim of a domestic violence incident involving Demestihas, who is the Assistant Chief of Police for the Bakersfield Police Department.
BPD officials obtained an arrest warrant for Demestihas for a felony charge of domestic assault. He surrendered himself to the Taft City Jail. He is still facing charges but has since been bailed out of jail.
BPD confirmed that Demestihas will be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal and administrative investigations but they did not say for how long.
Officials say the woman did not need medical attention but the chief did say that they take all domestic violence cases very seriously. He said the Bakersfield Police Department will conduct a thorough and complete investigation into this matter and no one is above the law.
"As with any criminal act or violation of policies and procedures, it could be anything from verbal counseling top termination in regards to the administrative side. Based on the facts of the case as I know them at this time he did get arrested for a felony and there's jail time generally associated for felony for domestic violence."
The message going forward is that accountability will continue to be one of the main values they hold close as a department but for now, Demestihas, remains on leave for an unknown amount of time.
Meanwhile, the deputy district attorney for Kern County issued the following statement concerning the case:
If BPD chooses to submit the Demestihas case to a District Attorney for potential filing, it will be submitted to the Kings County District Attorney’s office for review and prosecution if charges are filed. Given Demestihas’ tenure and rank at BPD, we have chosen to avoid even the appearance of any conflict of interest in handling the case. When one county District Attorney’s office identifies a potential conflict of interest, it is common to reach out to neighboring county district attorney offices to ensure that cases are prosecuted. We will sometimes handle cases for other counties when this type of issue comes up in their counties, and they do the same for us in this type of situation.