SEATTLE – The state Court of Appeals has upheld the termination of a former Seattle Police Officer who was fired for punching a handcuffed person seven years ago.
The appeals court upheld a lower-court decision that overturned a ruling by a Disciplinary Review Board to reinstate Adley Shepherd with a 15-day unpaid suspension for punching the intoxicated suspect so hard he fractured the orbit of her eye, The Seattle Times reported.
Former Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole fired Shepherd but he appealed with the support of the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild.
The appeals court wrote in a 46-page opinion issued Monday that the disciplinary board’s “decision reinstating Shepherd is so lenient it violates the explicit, well-defined, and dominant public policy against the excessive use of force in policing.”
Shepherd and two other officers arrested a combative Miyekko Durden-Bosley, 23, on suspicion of domestic violence on June 22, 2014. As Shepherd attempted to place her, handcuffed, into his patrol car, Durden-Bosley struggled and kicked, striking the officer in the head. Shepherd then punching her. The incident was captured on the vehicle’s dash camera.
Shepherd has said that he was following policy and that other officers have received more lenient discipline for similar uses of excessive or unnecessary force. He appealed his termination to the disciplinary review board, which consisted of a representative from the police union, a representative of the city and a mediator, identified in court papers as Jane Wilkinson.
In a tiebreaker vote, Wilkinson concluded that, while Shepherd violated policy and training, his indiscretion was not a firing offense. The review board then reduced the discipline.
Durden-Bosley settled a civil-rights lawsuit against Seattle for $195,000.
The Seattle City Attorney’s Office appealed the disciplinary board’s decision to superior court, which sided with O’Toole and reinstated Shepherd’s termination. Monday’s ruling upholds that ruling.
Multiple messages left with Shepherd on Monday from the newspaper seeking comment on the ruling were not returned. Telephone and email messages sent to police union president Mike Solan also were not returned. It was not clear whether Shepherd will appeal.
City Attorney Pete Holmes, whose office represented O’Toole’s and the city’s efforts to fire Shepherd, said he will defend the case to the Washington Supreme Court if necessary.