Charges have been dismissed against a Bakersfield Police Department officer who was accused of embezzlement after a Kern County Superior Court judge ruled a search of his property was unlawful and that a witness was biased against the officer.
The case against Kevin Schindler was dismissed during a brief hearing Friday morning after which a prosecutor said the District Attorney's Office could not proceed following a Dec. 31 ruling that granted a motion to suppress evidence seized from Schindler's home.
Supervising Deputy District Attorney Felicia Nagle said the prosecution had no evidence following Judge Ralph Wyatt's ruling so there was no choice but to dismiss the case in its entirety.
Schindler's attorney, H.A. Sala, said his client and family have been through a difficult time and are looking forward to moving on with their lives.
"I'm pleased the court made the ruling, and it's the correct ruling, finding the search to be unlawful," Sala said.
Wyatt determined in his Dec. 31 ruling that Schindler's wife never consented to a search of their residence or its yards, and a BPD search of a locker found in their yard was unlawful.
Police alleged the locker contained items Schindler, who was a police officer at the time, possessed illegally. They included a BPD shotgun locking rack — used to secure firearms inside patrol vehicles — as well as a department-issued shotgun that was not assigned to him. Police said they also found anabolic steroids.
Prosecutors charged Schindler with four misdemeanors: receiving stolen property; embezzlement of property by a public officer; and two charges related to drug possession.
The events leading to the charges began Oct. 6, 2017.
Kevin Schindler and his wife, Hollie, were going through a separation, and Kevin had gone to their home to pick up some belongings, according to a description of the events provided by Sala and court documents.
While there, the two argued whether he could take a couple of cabinets in the garage. Kevin Schindler eventually left without taking the cabinets.
Hollie Schindler then called her brother-in-law, Erik Forbus, for advice on whether her husband had any right to the cabinets.
Forbus, a Kern High School District officer and former BPD officer, called police and reported a domestic disturbance at the Schindler residence.
Officers arrived and questioned Hollie Schindler, who said there was no domestic disturbance, just a dispute over a couple of cabinets. Police determined no crime had occurred.
"There was not a scintilla of evidence of domestic violence," Sala said.
Police began to clear the scene, Sala said, when Forbus told a sergeant Hollie Schindler had given him permission to search the backyard. Forbus and the sergeant went in the yard and found the locker.
But Hollie Schindler later testified she never gave permission to search the backyard, or any part of their property.
The sergeant's testimony also differed from Forbus' account. The sergeant testified he heard Forbus ask Hollie Schindler to put her dog away so he could go in the backyard, and Hollie Schindler said "OK," according to Sala.
The sergeant testified he believed her response constituted implied consent to search the yard.
Wyatt found differently.
The judge wrote Hollie Schindler's testimony "was credible and she did not expressly or impliedly consent to a search of the residence, the backyard, the side yard or the locker."
In contrast, Wyatt found Forbus' testimony "not credible or plausible," according to the ruling.
The judge wrote the testimony of Forbus was inconsistent with testimony from Hollie Schindler and the sergeant, and that Forbus had an evasive demeanor and had long held a bias against Kevin Schindler.
It could not immediately be determined if Kevin Schindler remained employed with the BPD.