February 8, 2012 in City

Fired Spokane police detective sues city, seeks pay

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Former Spokane police Detective Jeff Harvey filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the department that fired him last year, seeking back pay and damages for emotional, physical and mental “injuries” to be determined at trial.

Harvey’s attorney, Bob Dunn – who recently won a $722,000 jury award and $833,000 in attorney’s fees in similar case involving Office Jay Mehring – pointed the finger at former police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

“She came here on a campaign to make a name for herself at the expense of officers who were working for her and didn’t care one whit about due process,” Dunn said.

Dunn sent the city’s new administration a demand letter three weeks ago, seeking to settle the case out of court.

“With the new regime, we thought we might hear something that would eliminate the exposure the city would have,” Dunn said. “We didn’t hear squat.”

Acting police Chief Scott Stephens could not be reached late Tuesday for comment.

Last July, the city released Harvey’s 10-page termination letter, which was signed by Kirkpatrick and City Administrator Ted Danek and hand-delivered to Harvey’s home. 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.

In the lawsuit, Dunn accused the city of violating Harvey’s confidential employment records and retaliating against him because Harvey had served as a vice president of the Spokane Police Guild.

“In this role, (Harvey) was very vocal regarding the Guild’s disapproval of police leadership, particularly how Defendant Kirkpatrick abusively handled discipline and treated guild members,” Dunn wrote. Harvey’s “comments and opinions were commonly published in numerous local news broadcasts, as was his involvement in the 2010 vote of no confidence against Defendant Kirkpatrick, making him a target of Defendant Kirkpatrick for unlawful retaliation and employment discrimination.”

Harvey was terminated after he was charged with obstruction of justice following a January 2011 encounter with a state Fish and Wildlife officer. However, a jury last September decided 5-1 to acquit Harvey, and Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Brian O’Brien said he would not retry the case.


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