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Controversy over a proposed deal to rehire a Spokane police sergeant after he was fired for an off-duty drunken driving collision has focused attention on an often-misunderstood state agency involved in the settlement negotiations – the Washington Human Rights Commission. The deal called for the city of Spokane to rehire fired Sgt. Brad Thoma and purported to be mediated by the Human Rights Commission, based on a claim that the city failed to accommodate the officer’s disability of alcoholism. However, Sharon Ortiz, the commission’s executive director, said she had not signed off on the deal that had been brokered by an investigator in the commission’s Spokane office and that it would need further review.
The new proposal would drop $15,000 that would be paid to fired Spokane Police Sgt. Brad Thoma’s attorney.
Despite calling for “all courses of action” four months ago to settle the civil suit brought by the mother and estate of Otto Zehm, it appears Mary Verner will step down as mayor of Spokane without resolving the case. Attorneys Breean Beggs and Jeffry Finer, who represent Zehm’s mother and estate, said they could not comment about negotiations. However, they did say they are still waiting to hear from the city and its insurance underwriter, American International Group.
A jury on Friday awarded more than $700,000 to a Spokane police detective after finding he was wrongfully fired and then retaliated against by Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick. The amount includes $250,000 in punitive damages against Kirkpatrick, who quickly left Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor’s courtroom with Assistant City Attorney Ellen O’Hara after the verdict was read. Both declined comment.
Jurors will continue deliberations today to decide whether Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick “callously manipulated” her power to attack a 16-year department veteran, or showed strong leadership skills with a troubled employee when she fired a detective in 2007. Jay Mehring, 43, claims he was wrongfully suspended without pay and defamed after he allegedly threatened to kill his wife during a messy divorce. After he was acquitted by a jury, he was reinstated but removed from a federal drug task force.
The city of Spokane must produce emails regarding its contract with a police department psychologist as part of preparation for a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a detective, a judge ruled this week. Defense lawyer Bob Dunn requested the emails because of what he believes is misconduct by the city regarding the employment of police psychologist Dr. Deanette Palmer.
A Spokane police detective has filed a formal complaint asking the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office to investigate allegations that Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and city attorneys have engaged in felony witness tampering. Detective Jay Mehring filed the complaint with the sheriff’s office Sunday, alleging that the city refused to renew a contract with the department’s longtime psychologist after she gave an opinion favorable to Mehring as part of his $3.5 million civil suit against the city. That suit alleges he was wrongfully terminated in 2007 amid reports that he threatened to harm his wife.
The obstruction of justice trial began Monday against embattled former Spokane police detective Jeff Harvey. Harvey was fired this year after being charged with a gross misdemeanor following a confrontation with a state Department of Fish and Wildlife police officer who responded on Jan. 22 to a report of boys shooting after hunting hours on private land north of Spokane. Harvey, who was off-duty at the time, is accused of hindering the investigation, which involved his sons.
A suspended Spokane firefighter’s wrongful arrest lawsuit against the Washington State Patrol over a botched child pornography investigation is headed to trial after an appellate court ruling Wednesday. A three-person panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says false statements made by WSP investigators amounted to intentional and reckless conduct that infringed on Spokane fire Lt. Todd Chism’s civil rights. The two WSP employees named in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, Detective Rachel Gardner and Sgt. John Sager, shouldn’t be granted immunity because of their actions, the court ruled.
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.
A former Spokane police sergeant fired after a drunken hit-and-run crash has been offered a spot as a detective after a change in state law lifted his driving restrictions. City officials notified Bradley N. Thoma on Friday that he can return at the demoted level immediately after he obtained an unrestricted driver’s license this week, said Marlene Feist, city spokeswoman.
A case that was settled in criminal court two years ago is still percolating in the Spokane Police Department, with a detective suing the city for defamation and his boss, Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, putting him on paid leave, saying his claims of emotional distress make him unfit for duty. Detective Jay Mehring was removed from duty the same day Kirkpatrick was to give a deposition in the $3.5 million lawsuit, said Mehring’s lawyer, Bob Dunn.
A Spokane police detective cleared of a felony harassment charge by a jury last year is preparing to sue the city. An attorney representing Detective Jay Mehring filed a $3.5 million claim against the city last week.