Seattle Department Ex-Cop Who Punched Woman Claims Wrongful Termination From Department; Police Chief Had a Vendetta Against Him

O'Toole, he claims, was sacked because he gave in to pressure from local politics and public opinion.

After punching a restrained lady in the face in 2014, an ex-cop from Seattle is suing the city’s police department for dismissing him. According to the Black man, he tried to de-escalate a conflict but was unable to do so, so he used the force he’d been taught to use.

He believes racism and retaliation played a role in his dismissal, claiming that the former police chief had a “vendetta” against him. Adley Shepherd has launched a lawsuit in the United States, according to the Seattle Times. The latest in this eight-year-long saga is before Seattle’s District Court. She fired him in 2016 after determining that he was incorrect for punching 23-year-old Miyekko Durden-Bosley with a closed fist in the face two years prior to the incident.

Shepherd was dispatched to a residence on June 22, 2014, to deal with a disturbance. Durden-Bosley was originally jailed for domestic violence, according to reports, and was “intoxicated and verbally and physically aggressive.” When the police tried to arrest the young woman, she reportedly began cursing at him and assaulting him. She kicked him in the head as he put her in his patrol car. He hit her in the face in retaliation.

The victim’s right eye’s orbit was fractured as a result of the blow. The police car’s dashcam filmed the fight, which provoked public indignation. After Shepherd’s termination, Durden-Bosley launched a civil complaint against the city, which was settled for $195,000 at the time. His termination was overturned by a three-member disciplinary review board, which instead awarded him a 15-day penalty. Shepherd’s original 2016 termination was upheld years later by a King County Superior Court judge (2019) and the Washington State Court of Appeals (2021).

The Seattle Police Officers Guild said it was “disappointed” with the state appeals court’s decision on April 6, 2021, and announced via social media its plans to appeal Shepherd’s termination to the Washington Supreme Court. Shepherd claims he was unlawfully fired and explains his reaction to the incident that night in the lawsuit. He claimed he tried to calm things down, but to no avail, and that he only used force after being assaulted himself.

O’Toole, he claims, was sacked because he gave in to pressure from local politics and public opinion. The confrontation occurred at the same time that she was named the department’s first female chief and the beginning of the Black Lives Matter protests in the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown. As a result of the former officer’s dismissal, he feels it was a reaction to the police chief’s reform plan.

During her three years as the city’s chief, O’Toole was honored by the United States. According to Crosscut, Attorney General Loretta Lynch has worked tirelessly to clean up the government. Because of this work, she even attended the 44th president’s last State of the Union speech with the Obamas.

Working with the Seattle Police Management Association, she changed the way the police promoted officers within the department and removed other officers for wrongdoing outside of Shepherd. As a provision of the consent agreement, she also implemented department-wide crisis intervention and de-escalation training. She resigned from her position at the end of 2017.

Shepherd further claims he was more harshly reprimanded for the assault than other instances of questionable force committed by white officers. 

“There were no prior or subsequent disciplinary actions exactly comparable to Shepherd’s by the SPD or the City of Seattle,” the lawsuit presents. “While discipline has been handed down at times for public incidents, no one has been discharged or terminated for similar actions — even those that became public.”

“Shepherd was trained to use this level of force and then subsequently discharged and terminated when he did so,” it says later in the filing and alleges that he was exposed to negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress as a result of doing what he was taught to do. Moreover, the former officer believes because he is Black, he is the target of “adverse employment decisions and disparate treatment.”

“Other officers who are not African-American have been accused of similar questionable use of force incidents and were never terminated either before or since Shepherd’s incident,” the document states.

While he believes race played a part in her decision, the filing claims, O’Toole had personal reasons she wanted to get rid of him.

The lawsuit reads, “Shepherd brings this case to shed light on his wrongful termination and to prove that he has been damaged as a result of the defendant’s vendetta against him and his unfair and unequal treatment by defendants, as well as their egregious breach of the contracts they have with the Seattle Police [Officers] Guild, of which Shepherd was a member at the time of their wrongful actions against him.”

It’s possible that this claim is true. The city was ordered to pay a $2.8 million settlement in 2016 after a King County Superior Court judge concluded O’Toole retaliated against two senior police officers. Until this incident, Shepherd had never been in issue with the police, and after six years of back and forth, he has decided not to return as an officer. Rather than reinstatement, he will seek pecuniary damages “in an amount to be established at trial,” according to the lawsuit.

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