Washougal continues appeal of police officer's reinstatement

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 

The city of Washougal has filed notice with the Washington Court of Appeals that it will continue to challenge the reinstatement a police officer convicted of assaulting a mentally ill man restrained in the back of his patrol car in July 2012.

Clark County Superior Court Judge John Nichols ruled on Oct. 16 that he didn't have jurisdiction to overturn an arbitrator's decision to reinstate police Officer Robert E. Ritchie. The judge found that arbitrator Ronald L. Miller abided by the law and the confines of the collective bargaining agreement in his decision.

The city filed a notice Nov. 14 that it will appeal Nichols' ruling. The city has until Feb. 14 to file an opening brief, which will spell out some of the arguments for city's claim, said David Ponzoha, appeals court administrator for Division 2.

Ritchie has been on paid administrative leave since Sept. 9 after an arbitrator ruled that he should be allowed to continue his duties on the police force.

Ritchie was terminated from his job in September 2012 for violating the Washougal Police Department's use of force policy when he repeatedly punched Tyler Lampman, 26, after Lampman spat on him.

Miller concluded on Aug. 16 that the termination was too harsh a punishment for Ritchie, given the officer's 28 years of service with the department. He ordered that the city reinstate Ritchie to his job on Sept. 9.

Lampman, who has schizophrenia, was arrested July 1, 2012, on suspicion of domestic violence against his mother and brother. His mother said he hadn't been taking his medications.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts;http://facebook.com/ColTrends;paris.achen@columbian.com.