August 18, 2014

Modesto police investigating bar fight involving one of their own

The Modesto Police Department is investigating a fight between one of its off-duty officers and a patron at the Speakeasy Lounge downtown on Aug. 3.

The Modesto Police Department is investigating a fight between one of its off-duty officers and a patron at the Speakeasy Lounge downtown.

Police Chief Galen Carroll said officers were dispatched to the 12th Street bar just after 12 a.m. Aug. 3 to respond to a fight between two male patrons.

He said security had broken up the fight by the time officers arrived and there were no weapons and no injuries. He identified the officer as Detective Mike Hicks, 47, and the other patron as Modesto resident Michael Ortega, 31.

No one was arrested, and Hicks remains on duty.

Carroll said his department is conducting an internal affairs investigation and will forward the results to the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office for review. Hicks also could face department discipline.

Carroll limited his remarks because the investigation has not been completed, but said in general he expects his officers to conduct themselves at the highest level. “I expect professional behavior from our officers both on and off duty,” he said.

He said it is not unusual for officers not to arrest people involved in a fight. He said the decision to place an officer on administrative leave is based on many factors, including the severity of the allegations against him and the circumstances of the event.

The fight took place on the weekend of the Modesto Grand Prix, in which thousands of spectators were downtown to watch superkarts race from the afternoon and into the night along city streets. Carroll said the fight was not related to the grand prix.

Speakeasy Lounge owners Gina Rossi and Jeremy Crespo said they were not at the bar during the fight and declined to comment.

Hicks is a longtime veteran of the Police Department. According to Bee archives:

He was a member of the department’s 1998 cross-country relay team, which finished eighth out of 29 law enforcement teams in the 120-mile Challenge Cup Relay from Baker to the Las Vegas Strip. The event is dubbed the Super Bowl of law enforcement running competitions. He has been an award-winning K9 officer and taken part in the department’s effort to curb underage drinking.

Hicks was involved in two officer-involved shootings. He and another officer shot a man who had killed one woman and was holding a knife to the throat of another woman in 1999. And in 2003, Hicks shot a suspect during a pursuit.

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