SEATTLE - A Seattle police officer fired after punching a woman during an arrest is fighting to get his job back, three weeks after an arbitrator decided that the city should reverse his termination and reinstate him as an officer.
“The can's been kicked down the road for four and a half years and my story's been taken away from me,” Adley Shepherd said, “and I'm trying to get that back.”
The Seattle City Attorney’s Office has stated it will be appealing the decision in the next two weeks.
“Did you feel hopeful that you would be back on SPD?” KIRO 7 reporter Linzi Sheldon asked.
“I’m ready to get back to work and that just didn’t happen,” he said. “There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to win.”
“You never doubted?” Sheldon asked.
“No, no, not one bit,” Shepherd said. “It’s just because I did what I was trained to do.”
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That training, he explained in his case, was to respond with sufficient force to subdue a subject, and the training is supported by the Seattle Police Department’s lead defensive tactics instructor, Richard Peterson. Shepherd used that training, he said, when Miyekko Durden-Bosley kicked him in the head as he arrested her in June 2014 for allegedly threatening a young man and his mother.
Shepherd's punch and the resulting fractures to Durden-Bosley’s eye socket led to Shepherd’s firing in 2016 and a binding arbitration process between the city and the Seattle Police Officers Guild.
But last month, the arbitrator decided that the Police Department's firing of Shepherd was excessive punishment.
Documents stated that Shepherd should be “disciplined for violating the city’s policy on the use of force with a 15-day unpaid suspension” and that he should be back on the job.
Durden-Bosley issued a statement through her attorneys that reads, in part, “This decision sends the message that a police officer can violently assault a handcuffed woman without facing any consequences. I am extremely disappointed and fear for my safety and that of anyone else unfortunate enough to anger Officer Shepherd in the future.”
Mayor Jenny Durkan called the arbitrator’s decision wrong and said in a statement “Officer Shepherd will not be reinstated pending the resolution” of the city’s appeal.
On Nov. 20, KIRO 7 asked Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best for her response to the arbitrator’s decision.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed the decision was overturned,” she said. “The city attorney has reviewed everything and will continue to evaluate it and look for further options about the outcome. We do know the arbitrator did in fact agree that the amount of force used was excessive and that strong discipline needed to be imposed.”
“Were you surprised that she said that?” KIRO 7 reporter Linzi Sheldon asked Shepherd.
“I’ve known Chief Best, I’ve worked for Chief Best and it’s more hurtful than anything else,” he said.
Shepherd stated Tuesday that the Seattle Police Department has failed him, refusing a hearing for his use of force case before the Force Review Board.
“Every use of force type two and above is supposed to get presented in front of the Force Review Board,” he said. “My use of force, (type three…) it was never presented to the Force Review Board.”
His case has also become intertwined with the Police Department's status under a consent decree on police reform. A federal judge is concerned that rehiring Shepherd could put the city out of compliance and on Tuesday requested documents related to his arbitration.
“Do you have regrets about it?” Sheldon asked Shepherd.
“In hindsight, there are a million different things that I could do, but no one else was there,” he said. “I was in that position. I was the one that was assaulted.”
KIRO 7 pointed out that Durden-Bosley was drunk, handcuffed and significantly smaller in stature than Shepherd.
“You felt that she could put your life in danger?” Sheldon asked.
“Linzi, that's the hardest I’ve ever been kicked, I’ve ever been hit. I’ve been shot. I’ve been knocked out. That’s what hard. It’s hard to explain to people,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd said he believes he’ll be back on the force eventually.
“We're going to continue,” he said. “I really believe in the system. I really believe in it.”
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