Judge upholds termination of Seattle officer who punched handcuffed woman

The King County Prosecutor’s Office will not file a criminal charge against a Seattle police officer who punched a woman in the head while she was handcuffed during an arrest.

SEATTLE — A Superior Court judge ruled that a Seattle officer who lost his job after punching a handcuffed woman in the face and fracturing her skull while she was in the back of a patrol car will not be reinstated, according to a news release Friday from Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes.

This decision comes after an arbitrator ruled to reinstate Officer Adley Shepherd.

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Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, with the support of the Seattle mayor, made the determination last year to not reinstate Shepherd.

According to a release, the ruling upholds the original termination decision from 2016. The incident happened in 2014.

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes issued the following statement:

“We knew the arbitrator’s decision to reinstate officer Shepherd was wrong from the outset, and Chief Carmen Best was right to not reinstate the officer immediately.

“We understood that Judge Robart had deep concerns about this case. We shared those concerns about how this incident deeply impacted public confidence, which is why we pursued the appeal.

"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.
"We also want to acknowledge the work of Assistant City Attorney Sarah Tilstra who argued this case."

Click here to read the judge's order.

The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild issued a statement regarding judge's ruling:

Seattle Police Officers Guild members are some of the best-trained and professional Public Safety servants in the nation. We are willing to put our lives on the line to dutifully protect our community each and every day.
This decision impacts all labor and is an affront to Binding Arbitration.
Our hearts go out to the Shepherd family who have been dragged through this process for nearly five years. Binding arbitration is final. SPOG will be immediately appealing this decision as it will negatively impact all public sector union contracts.
The Seattle Police Officers Guild is the largest police labor union in the northwest and we represent all sworn Seattle Police Officers and Sergeants which includes over 1300 members.

Below is video of previous coverage on this story.