SEATTLE — A judge has vacated an arbitrator's ruling that ordered the Seattle Police Department to reinstate an officer who was fired for punching a drunk, handcuffed woman after she kicked him during a 2014 incident captured on patrol car video.
King County Superior Court Judge John McHale found in a ruling released late Friday that the arbitrator's Nov. 30 decision to order the city to reduce Officer Adley Shepherd's firing to a 15-day suspension and put him back on the job amounted to discipline so lenient it "violates the explicit, dominant and well-defined public policy against the use of excessive force in policing."
Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes praised McHale's ruling.
“Judge McHale rightly recognized the arbitrator's order for Mr. Shepherd’s reinstatement violated the public policy against excessive use of force in policing. SPD should not be forced to employ an officer whose view of reasonable and necessary force is so immutable and so contrary to SPD’s policies and values. We strongly agree with the Judge when he noted that SPD's policy prohibiting excessive force was 'explicit, dominant, and well defined.' This was the right decision," Durkan and Holmes said in a joint statement.
The Seattle Police Officer's Guild said it plans to immediately appeal "this decision as it will negatively impact all public sector union contracts."
Shepard was fired in 2014 by former Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole because his “conduct was in stark contrast to the expectations set forth for our officers, and particularly our heightened duty of care to those in custody.”
On June 22, 2014, Shepherd responded to a call about a possible domestic violence incident in South Seattle. The woman involved, Miyekko Durden-Bosley, allegedly threatened her ex-boyfriend. When Shepherd arrived, the situation escalated, and Durden-Bosley was put in handcuffs.
Dashcam footage recorded Durden-Bosley in the squad car denying she made threats. Shepherd said she was drunk and combative, although Durden-Bosley said that wasn’t true.
It is unclear whether Durden-Bosley actually kicked Shepherd, but footage records Shepherd saying, “She kicked me.” Then Shepherd punched her in the face.
The punch broke Durden-Bosley’s eye socket and caused a concussion.
The King County Prosecutor did not press criminal charges against Shepherd for the 2014 incident. The Washington State Patrol also investigated the use of force by Shepherd and concluded that "he acted in a way inconsistent with the training and policy by not using the time and resources available to him. As a result he unnecessarily placed himself in greater danger and caused unnecessary and foreseeable injury to the handcuffed suspect."