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Police Guild calls Thoma behavior “reprehensible”

The Spokane Police Guild today called former police Sgt. Brad Thoma’s decision to flee the scene of an off-duty drunken crash “reprehensible” but said its job is to make sure the city honors his due process rights as a union-represented employee.

“What Brad Thoma did that night was reprehensible,” Guild President Ernie Wuthrich said in a prepared statement. “The former chief and former mayor took the action they deemed necessary and Brad Thoma took the action he deemed necessary.”

Wuthrich said the Guild provided Thoma with the support that all of its dues-paying members are guaranteed.

“Our country was founded on the concept of due process under law,” Wuthrich said. “In every instance where there is a conflict between our members and management, the Guild steps up to fulfill the support that our charter legally requires us to give and then let our legal system run its course.”

Thoma, who was given a deferred prosecution agreement on the drunken driving charge after prosecutors agreed to drop a hit-and-run charge stemming from the September 2009 crash, was fired from the police department in December of that year. He had refused the city’s offer to find him a position that didn’t require him to operate a motor vehicle.

Thoma complained to the state Human Rights Commission, arguing that the city violated his workplace rights by failing to accommodate his alcoholism disability.

In a proposed settlement reached earlier this month, the city council was was prepared to rehire him into a demoted rank and give him back pay for the past two and a half years. The deal requires city council approval but has been withdrawn for 30 days following public outcry and announcement from the Human Rights Commission that its investigation remains incomplete.

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