May 17, 2012 in City, News

City rehires detective despite ongoing suit

By and The Spokesman-Review
 

The Spokane Police Department has re-hired embattled Detective Jeff Harvey even though his lawsuit against the city remains unresolved.

City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said Harvey’s first day back was Monday after he was fired for cause last July by then-Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

“We have new leadership in the city and police department,” Feist said, “who may look at it differently than previous leadership. We are also looking at what our legal exposure is.”

Bob Dunn, who is representing Harvey, said his client has been rehired at his previous rank of detective and at the same pay, which is $85,650 a year.

“They wanted to stop the back-wage bleeding,” Dunn said. “You might as well pay him for doing his job.”

At the same time, the city offered to settle the case for $35,000 to Harvey, and up to $15,000 for attorney’s fees. Dunn said Harvey will not accept the city’s offer.

“It was so demeaning and so insignificant that it doesn’t warrant a response,” Dunn said.

Last fall, Dunn won a $722,000 jury award and was given $833,000 in attorney’s fees in a similar case involving Officer Jay Mehring. Dunn filed the current lawsuit on Harvey’s behalf in February.

Last July, the city released Harvey’s 10-page termination letter, which was signed by Kirkpatrick and former 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.

Feist said the city has hired Seattle Attorney Michael Patterson to represent it against Harvey’s suit. Interim Chief Scott Stephens was in contract negotiations and unavailable for comment.

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