Council to consider $350,000 firing settlement
The Spokane City Council on Monday will consider paying a fired and rehired police detective $350,000.
Former Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick fired Detective Jeff Harvey in July 2011, citing what city leaders said was a “troubled work history.”
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 deadlocked over the misdemeanor charge, voting 5-1 to acquit Harvey, and the county prosecutor’s office opted not to retry the case.
Spokane City Councilman Steve Salvatori called the proposed settlement “probably the best outcome for a difficult situation.”
Harvey has argued that he was fired in retaliation for his work in the leadership of the Spokane Police Guild.
Before the case went to trial, a police department internal affairs investigation determined that Harvey had committed conduct unbecoming of an officer as a result of the alleged confrontation with the state Fish and Game officer.
It’s unclear if any mention of the incident or the internal affairs investigation will remain in Harvey’s disciplinary file as a result of the settlement. City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said that both parties agreed to release a joint statement that addresses the issue, but that won’t be released to the public until after the City Council finalizes its decision.
Harvey’s attorney, Bob Dunn, said he could not comment on the case. 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.
The city rehired Harvey in May to the same rank he held when he was fired. He earns $85,650 a year.
When he was fired last year, the city released Harvey’s 10-page termination letter. It documented other discipline and negative evaluations during Harvey’s years in the department, including a 20-day suspension in 1987 after breaking a man’s arm and a 40-hour suspension in 1991 for calling in sick so he could go hunting.
In the lawsuit, Dunn accused the city of violating the confidentiality of Harvey’s 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, “… making him a target of Defendant Kirkpatrick for unlawful retaliation and employment discrimination.”