"Hey, wanna go see the body?" may seem like an odd thing to hear at most jobs, but for Bakersfield police trainee Lindy DeGeare, it didn't seem so unusual when her training officer, Aaron Stringer, reportedly asked her something along those lines after a local man had been killed during a police shootout, the Bakersfield Californian reports. But what allegedly happened at Kern Medical Center shortly after that has led to an internal investigation of Stringer, who is accused of tickling the dead man's feet, moving his head around, and telling DeGeare he "loves playing with dead bodies," per police reports seen by the Californian. Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson says the allegations are "disturbing," and Stringer has been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
Ramiro James Villegas, 22, had allegedly led cops on a Nov. 13 car chase that ended when he crashed into a signal light pole, then approached officers while reaching for his waistband, the newspaper notes; police opened fire, killing Villegas. When Stringer brought DeGeare to see Villegas' body afterward, she says he donned gloves, touched the bottom of Villegas' feet, and said, "Tickle tickle." She told investigators he also pulled Villegas' toes and tried to turn his head; a third officer assigned to stand watch over the body also says he saw Stringer handle Villegas' chin and jaw and try to open his mouth—none of which he had permission to do from the coroner, the Californian notes. "We are grossly disturbed by the ghoulish behavior of the police," Mark Geragos, attorney for Villegas' family, tells the New York Daily News. Villegas' sister, Sarina Gonzalez, tells Bakersfield Now that "it's sickening. It's hurtful. It's not OK."