Domestic violence victim sues former Clovis cop, cities of Clovis and Sanger

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A former Clovis police officer, who served jail time for domestic violence, now faces a federal lawsuit from the woman he abused.

Kyle Pennington served a 30-day sentence last year for misdemeanor domestic violence. Pennington admitted to taking a trip to the dark side of the police force, but he was never convicted of the most serious charges against him. His victim says that's partly because of police in Clovis and Sanger protecting him, and she's still living in fear as a result.

Kyle Pennington got hauled off to jail five times for what he did to Desiree Martinez. But the Army veteran and Clovis police officer denied any abuse, and after a mixed verdict in his trial, he ultimately only admitted to a misdemeanor crime. A phone conversation posted to YouTube hints at much more.

"No Desiree, I told them that I ***ed up," Pennington said in the conversation Martinez recorded. "And I shouldn't have put hands on you. I told them that."

The same video includes several photos of injuries Martinez says Pennington inflicted on her. Some of those injuries are still visible, two years later.

In a new federal lawsuit she's filed, Martinez claims Pennington engaged in a pattern of violence. And every time she called out for help, police fell short of offering it.

"I felt helpless," she said. "I felt like I was isolated. I felt like I had no one to turn to. I didn't have anyone who would believe me because he was a police officer."

Martinez says Clovis police employees even alerted Pennington each time she reported trouble. At trial, Pennington's attorney grilled Martinez and accused her of changing her stories about the various attacks. She says the only lies she told were fed to her by her attacker. And when Sanger police did respond to her, they didn't follow protocol laid out by the federal Violence Against Women act.

"She never got an interview out of her abuser's line of sight or earshot," said her attorney, Kevin Little. "She was never told of her rights to a domestic violence advocate."

Action News reached out to the Penningtons and the cities of Clovis and Sanger. Only Clovis got back to us, saying they can't comment on the lawsuit, but they take domestic violence seriously, and adding that Pennington resigned a couple weeks after his first arrest.

It could be a couple years before the lawsuit goes to trial.

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