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Off-duty Bakersfield Police officer who fell asleep at Studio Movie Grill with gun in lap returned to duty

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 10:17 AM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 13:55:25-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The off-duty Bakersfield Police Department officer who was found asleep at Studio Movie Grill with his department-issued firearm in his lap has been returned to duty.

In December 2019, the Bakersfield Police Department was called to the movie theater in Northwest Bakersfield for reports of a man asleep with a gun in his lap.

The theater was evacuated and Bakersfield Police responded to the theater where officers removed the firearm and woke Barrier up.

Court documents obtained by 23ABC News showed officer Douglas Barrier was watching "Frozen 2" on Dec. 19 when he was found "too intoxicated to care for his own safety," an officer reported.

The documents said that an employee of Studio Movie Grill had gone into the theater to check that it was empty when she found officer Barrier. The employee told officers the movie had ended and she had gone to check the theater for any other movie-goers when she came across the officer asleep. The employee saw the gun on the officer's lap and informed her manager, who then tried to wake officer Barrier three times, court document said.

Body camera video obtained by 23ABC in October of 2020 shows multiple officers coming up with a plan to approach Barrier 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.

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

As Barrier was questioned by an officer he said, "I drank more than I planned on and I'm embarrassed, it won't ever happen again and I'm sorry," said 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.

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. 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 2020 after he completed a deferred entry of judgment program.

BPD confirmed on December 14, 2020 that the administrative investigation had been completed and that Barrier had been returned to duty, but could not provide any other details.

"He has been returned to duty. Any other details, including disposition of the administrative investigation is a personnel matter and I’m prohibited from discussing it by law." Sergeant Robert Pair said in an email to 23ABC.