Judge agrees to hear appeal of Shepherd arbitration ruling

The Seattle Times reports that a King County Superior Court judge today agreed to hear an appeal of the Disciplinary Review Board’s decision on disciplining Officer Adley Shepherd, who punched a handcuffed suspect in the face when she kicked him in the forehead as he attempted to place her in the back seat of his police car.

As reported previously,  former SPD Chief O’Toole fired Shepherd because of the incident, but Shepherd and SPOG, the police officer’s union, appeled that decision to the DRB arbitration panel. The panel decided by a 2-1 vote to overturn Shepherd’s termination — though not to reinstate him as a patrol officer.

You can read the arbitrator’s decision here.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart, who oversees the consent decree with the city over biased policing, has taken special interest in the case as he deliberates on whether the city is remaining in full compliance with the consent decree.  As part of reassuring Robart that it remains in compliance, the city emphasized that it disagrees with the arbitrator and would file an appeal.

Appealing the arbitration ruling is tricky, because the contract between SPOG and the city in effect at the time of the incident specifies that arbitration decisions are final. However, arbitration decisions may still be challenged and overturned in court if they are found to violate “established public policy.” In today’s decision, the judge decided that the city has established sufficient issues to warrant hearing the case, though she did not rule on the merits of the case.