City appeals DRB reversal of officer’s termination

As promised, the city has appealed an arbitrator’s reversal of the firing of Officer Adley Shepherd for punching in the face a handcuffed suspect in the back of his patrol car.

Then-Chief O’Toole found that Shepherd’s action violated the SPD policy on use of force on restrained suspects, and fired him. SPOG, the police officers’ union, appealed the termination to a 3-person Disciplinary Review Board (DRB) arbitration panel. The deciding vote, a neutral arbitrator, found that Shepherd’s action did in fact vialote the policy but ruled that termination was too severe a piunishment and reduced it to a 15-day suspension.

The city’s appeal, submitted to King County Superior Court, notes that while the collective bargaining agreement says that DRB decisions are final, state law allows them to be challenged when they are contrary to established public policy. It argues that this decision violates the city’s established policy against excessive force in policing.

The case is particularly noteworthy because Judge James Robart, who presides over the city’s Consent Decree with the Department of Justice over biased policing practices, has taken an interest in it and has asked the city to explain why this incident isn’t evidence that the city has fallen out of compliance with the Consent Decree. The city is due to deliver its brief on that issue on Monday.