City seeks new trial in Seattle police officer retaliation lawsuit

The City of Seattle is asking for a new trial after a jury awarded two Seattle police officers approximately $3 million this summer. The officers claimed they were unfairly punished by the department.

"...We do not believe the City got a fair shake.  We have therefore asked the Court to grant a new trial to ensure that substantial justice is done,” City of Seattle attorney Jessica Harris wrote in an email.

The jury awarded nearly $2 million in damages to Sgt. Ella Elias and nearly $1 million to Captain Dave Proudfoot in July.

"...Unfortunately, the City and its Chief of Police just don’t get it," said attorney Julie Kays, who represents the plaintiffs in the case. "Instead of listening and reflecting upon the jury’s verdict, the Chief of Police has chosen to use precious taxpayer dollars to pay lawyers to write briefs that  just re-hash what the jury already decided."  

Elias claimed she became the target of hostility after she complained how overtime pay had been improperly doled out. During her time at the South Precinct, she said a group of subordinate African-American officers became hostile after she reported an unfair practice of giving lucrative overtime shifts to them.

Elias testified she was hurt by two complaints filed against her for making racially charged statements she says were taken out of context.

Her co-plaintiffs, Proudfoot and Lt. Steve Strand backed her up. Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole eventually transferred all three from the South Precinct to lower paying positions.

While the three staffers weren't demoted in rank, they claim they were demoted in pay and duties.

O’Toole claimed she stepped in when the tension reached a boiling point.

Jurors awarded $1.9 million to Elias, $932,00 to Proudfoot. Strand received no award.

KING 5's Elisa Hahn contributed to this report

Copyright 2016 KING


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