Fired detective files $10 million tort claim
Fired Spokane Police detective Jeff Harvey and his attorney filed a $10 million claim against the city Friday, calling his termination earlier in the week a retaliation for Harvey’s work as the vice president of the Spokane Police Guild.
“I’m flabbergasted at how brazenly this particular chief is ignoring the rights of employees who work for her,” Harvey’s attorney, Bob Dunn, said. “She doesn’t believe in due process, which is absolutely amazing to me because she is supposedly a lawyer.”The city placed Harvey on paid leave in February, after a Jan. 22 incident in which Fish and Wildlife Officer Dave Spurbeck said he had to physically move Harvey away from his vehicle as Harvey tried to prevent Spurbeck from questioning youths regarding a report of shooting after hours.
Mayor Mary Verner and Spokane Police Department Chief Anne Kirkpatrick could not be reached Friday, but city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said Kirkpatrick’s termination letter “lays out the position of the city and her rationale for reaching the discipline decision that she reached. I’m sure we will hear more about this.”
The city has 60 days to respond to the tort claim, which is required under state law before anyone can file a lawsuit against a government entity.
Dunn, in the tort claim, attacked the investigation that resulted in the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office charging Harvey with a gross misdemeanor as “the negligent investigation of spurious and contrived off duty charges against him … and the subsequent improper, highly prejudicial, and biased investigation and hearing conducted without due process by Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, as well as her numerous violations of City and Police Policy and Procedure.”
Harvey’s criminal case is due to go to trial in Spokane County District Court on Aug. 22.
Because that case is pending, Dunn said his client has not been able to tell his side of the confrontation with Spurbeck. He also said that the city was supposed to afford Harvey what’s known as a Loudermill hearing held before an impartial panel.
“But look who convenes over the entire hanging party,” Dunn said, referring to Kirkpatrick. “She slammed the gavel before the first witness could testify.”
The city publicly released Harvey’s 10-page termination letter, which was signed by Kirkpatrick and City Administrator Ted Danek and hand-delivered to Harvey’s home on Wednesday. It documented other discipline and negative evaluations during Harvey’s years in the department.
He was suspended for 20 days in 1987 after breaking a man’s arm; given an oral reprimand in 1989 after eight detention employees reported that Harvey and two fellow officers used excessive force against a 17-year-old boy; and suspended for 40 hours in 1991 for calling in sick so he could go hunting.
Dunn wrote in the claim that Kirkpatrick “orchestrated her termination letter of Harvey by selectively including portions of Detective Harvey’s private and confidential employment file and performance reviews … casting him in a false light in violation of the law and the Spokane Police Department Policy.”
Dunn pointed out in the tort claim that Harvey is one of only nine current department members awarded the department’s Medal of Valor for “extraordinary acts of bravery or heroism above and beyond what is expected in the line of duty.”
In 2009, Harvey’s supervisor, Sgt. Dan Torok, wrote that Harvey is a competent investigator who is capable of superior work.
“However, this fact is sometimes overshadowed by what appears to be an overreaction to some issues,” Torok wrote. “Often times Jeff discusses issues in the department in a manner that is afforded a union representative that would be frowned upon if it were any other detective … in his severe criticism of the administration, a policy, certain members of senior staff, etc.”