Tickle, Tickle: California Police Officer Suspended After Allegedly Admitting That He Likes To Play With Dead Bodies

120px-Toe_tagThere is a bizarre and disturbing case out of Bakersfield California where Officer Aaron Stringer has been put on leave after he allegedly admitted that he liked to play with dead bodies and was seeing tickling the feet of a dead man (shot by police) and saying “tickle, tickle.”

The reported plaything of Stringer was Ramiro James Villegas, 22, who was shot on November 13, 2014 after a police pursuit and a crash into a light pole. Villegas’ family is suing and saying that Villegas had his hands up in the air and was unarmed when shot. Police say that he reached for his waistband, but no weapon was ever found. Villegas was tasered and shot nine times with bullets striking his head and genitals

Stringer reportedly grabbed Villegas’ head and was touching his feet as he lay dead on a gurney. He is quoted as telling another officer that he “loves playing with dead bodies.” A trainee reported the conduct to a supervisor.

This could add an interesting legal claim over the abuse of a corpse. The family could articulate additional emotional injury from the mistreatment of the body. Under California law, both intentional and negligent emotional distress claims are recognized.

For intentional infliction of emotional distress, you must show that the defendant intentionally causes harm by acting in an “extreme and outrageous” way, which can include the misuse of authority or heinous acts. Gross recklessness or reckless disregard is allowed in addition to traditional intent. You must also show that the conduct caused severe emotional distress, though the conduct can be just a “substantial factor” in causing the emotional trauma.

There is also negligent infliction of emotional distress where negligent acts, errors or omissions were a substantial factor. These cases can fell into two groups based on the “bystander” theory and the “direct victim” theory. California and other states follow a variation of the so called Dillon Rule. There is also a requirement that the plaintiff suffered very severe emotional distress, or that there be a particularly close familial relationship.

What is interesting here is that the family was not present at the abusive conduct. This tort is recognized for bystanders if a person happens to be in the presence of a negligent incident but, was not directly involved. In such cases, they have to show that they perceived the physical injury or death of the victim. They have to show that the person was injured or killed due to negligence and that they were present at the scene of the accident and were able to perceive what was taking place. This requirement often produces painful results in litigation. In Hathaway v. Superior Court, 112 Cal. App. 3d 728, 169 Cal. Rptr. 435 (Ct. App. 1980), a six-year-old boy was electrocuted when he touched a cooler that was recently installed outside the house. Since the boy’s parents did not witness the electrocution from inside the house, they were deemed barred. The court ruled:

[When the boy’s parents discovered their son, he] was no longer gripping the water cooler and receiving the electrical charge. The event which constituted the accident had ended. It is uncontradicted that [the boy’s parents] did not sensorially perceive the injury-causing event, that is, the actual contact between the electrically charged water cooler and [their son], but saw only the results of the contact (the injuries) after the accident was over.

Id. at 736 (parenthesis in original).

I have always found the rule to be too restrictive in such cases because the emotional distress claims seem to me to be both genuine and obvious.

In the end, the playing with the body may not be necessary to secure significant damages, but there is always an uncertainty given the police chase and jurors who may be unsympathetic to the deceased. The question is whether the later conduct by Stringer could make into the trial due to its high potentiality for prejudice if it is not separate count or at least part of the claim for damages.

48 thoughts on “Tickle, Tickle: California Police Officer Suspended After Allegedly Admitting That He Likes To Play With Dead Bodies”

  1. What is the mentality of someone who wants to be a cop?

    People who want to be cops have something weird inside.

    The highest level of scrutiny should be applied and discipline should result in the highest turnover of any “occupation.”

    Sadly the inverse is true. You can’t fire or otherwise discipline cops.

    Looks like corruption is broad and pervasive.

    How’s that SCOTUS done for 226 years.

    What form of prestidigitation will the SCOTUS employ to save Obamacare?
    The SCOTUS will corruptly approve the Obamacare “state vs. federal exchange” language that irrefutably, effectively voids the ACA.

    Corruption is the rule, not the exception.

    Corruption. Get used to it.

  2. Ingannie, Yep. All true.

    This whole “obsession” business smacks of a need/desire to control the narrative — to the point of trying/wanting to control what the blog owner posts.

  3. From the DemocracyNow! interview posted at 4:04 pm, titled “As Video Captures Officers’ Fatal Shootings of Unarmed Men, Knowing Your Rights to Film the Police.”

    Amy Goodman: “As video proves decisive in holding police accountable for abuses nationwide, we are joined by Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. He authored “Know Your Rights” for the ACLU, and its companion article, “You Have Every Right to Photograph That Cop.””

    Jay Stanley: “The only problem is, is that a lot of police officers continue to think that they can go up to you and say, you know, “You need to turn that camera off, ma’am.” That is not a lawful order. It’s not a constitutional order. But it’s one that continues to happen all too often. And they certainly don’t have the right to look at your camera or seize your phone without a warrant. And they never, ever, under any circumstances that we can imagine, have the right to destroy or erase your video or photographs.”



  4. You’re welcome anon, it’s an “obsession” worth having. “Sweeping law enforcement reform”, long overdo. We have the right to film any police encounter and cops don’t have the right to seize your camera and delete or destroy your video. How else would all this police abuse have come to light? Certainly not by testimony under oath, or police investigating themselves.

  5. @rafflaw

    I am sooo ashamed of you! This is normal behavior because the cop was born that way. This is not a “choice” that he made! How dare you suggest reparative therapy for him! That is sooo fetiphobic of you!!!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  6. @Ingannie

    Thank you for the funny video! I bet that little SOB is one of those who never got a spanking in his life. Oh well, welcome to REALITY you little brat! Oh, I bet Wyne would be just precious in the hoosegow, telling Bubba, “Don’t you dare touch me, I’m only 17! And I need my mommie!”

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  7. Two commenters that flood this site with ad hominem attacks on others – including even JT somehow rarely have their comments censored, and it’s hard to believe that D.S. permits it – seemingly jeopardizing his authority to post articles. Maybe he can only censor on the weekends?

    Why? Dunno. Why does baloney reject the meat grinder?

  8. http://wavy.com/2015/04/09/vb-officer-on-administrative-duty-following-videoed-traffic-stop/

    “Officers used pepper spray on Wyne and then an officer pulled out a stun gun. Wyne was tased. He then told the officer he would get out of the car, but before he could, he was stunned again.”

    At the end of the four-minute video, you can see a police officer appear to turn off Griffith’s camera. 10 On Your Side wanted to know why, but police said they would not speculate about anything that appears in the video.

    When Griffith got her cell phone back from police, she said the video had been deleted. However, she was able to recover it from the deleted file in her phone.”

  9. “Am I being detained, officer? Am I under arrest?

    The young woman in Inga’s video has obviously seen some videos on how to address a hostile policeman. These questions make that a certainty.
    However, the young man was just being a moron.

    If I could be certain that the car and all their cash wouldn’t be confiscated despite lack of evidence, I’d be more upset at these entitled brats.

    As it stands, I don’t know what to think anymore.
    Is everyone in that video corrupt?
    I’d settle for finding Diogenes, much less an honest man.

  10. Long ago in husband’s college days – I worked for Santa Barbara News Press. One of my duties was taking funeral notices. A director called in late and he was huffing and puffing on the phone. I asked if he had been out running around the block. He said, “No, just living heavy stock.” He wasn’t referring to caskets.

    Re: the stark assessment, “another police, unsuited for the job”. It happens. As in, another teacher, unsuited for the job, another social worker, unsuited for the job, another, doctor, another nurse – – all unsuited for the job,.

    A few years back we had a nurse who misread the heparin cc’s on the chart and killed the patient. Happened in Redwood City, CA, though I doubt you can get a phone camera shot of it, as they had not been invented yet. The physician was obviously unsuited for legible writing and she was unsuited for riddling it out and not verifying dosage and believing what she saw and not knowing it was lethal. What nurse would look at a dose that would kill and just say, “OK, that’s what it looked like he wrote” – – Oh, I am sorry, were talking about unsuitable cops, weren’t we?

    Teachers who seduce students are unsuited for teaching – even sex education.

    Is it obsessive of certain commenters here to daily dredge up wobbly videos of stories that deal with marijuana wafting from a car full of teen agers? This blog has a veritable posse of Deppity Dawgs. It seems we are doomed to out of focus, distorted cell phone mini-documentaries. Inaccurate because we do not have the full story.

    We need another gay wedding cake debacle to plumb the depths of our humanity in order to balance the cop bashing festival we are having.

  11. Isaac, I don’t condone the tone they took with the police, but cops need to be able to handle kids like these and even adults without using a taser or pepper spray. Seriously, they couldn’t have reached in and just hauled his butt out? Yes he was a little sh!t but did not deserve to be tased. IMO it way over the line, not just a little.

  12. ingannie

    ‘Brattie’ is not the word. These kids seem to have gotten themselves empowered to have no respect for the police. The pepper spray and the taser is just, but only just, over the line. The kids may get this from their parents, their friends, or maybe just the media, but their behavior contributes to cops losing it.

    In the end a cop has to be able to take a punch like this. He should have called for a dog, and then thrown the book at them.

    I remember when I was that age. If I had a video of me acting like that snot nosed wimp of a kid in the back seat, I would move to another planet. Perhaps that video of the ‘tough guy’ will be punishment enough. It should be played over and over in a loop, crying and screaming. What a little piece of sh*t. “I’m gonna call my mom.”

  13. Hmmm. The more things change, the more. . .I write poems!

    This Little Piggy???
    A Modern Nursery Rhyme By Squeeky Fromm

    This little piggy used a taser,
    This little piggy used a gun,
    This little piggy had handcuffs,
    This little piggy had fun,
    And this little piggy cried tickle tickle tickle, when he was done.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

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