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Verdicts & Settlements

Federal Judge Dismisses Termination Claim By Seattle Cop Who Punched Handcuffed Woman

— February 28, 2023

The controversial case has caused significant hardship for Seattle and its police department, which remain subject to federal oversight and monitoring.

A federal judge has dismissed the wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuit filed by a former Seattle Police officer who was fired after punching a handcuffed woman in 2014.

According to The Seattle Times, the court found that the lawsuit was field too late.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Stanley Bastian also suggested that, even if plaintiff Adley Shepherd had filed his complaint earlier, it most likely would have failed on jurisdictional grounds.

However, Bastian’s ruling does allow Shepherd to refile some of his claims in a state-level court.

Attorneys for Shepherd said, while that the former Seattle Police officer had missed the four-year statute of limitations applicable to most wrongful termination cases, his claim raises important legal questions and merits further consideration.

“This is an important case that needs to be tried before a jury, and we’re confident that when that day comes, Adley will be vindicated,” attorney Eric Helmy told the Times.

“With all due respect to the Court, the judge appears to have committed a number of reversible errors,” Helmy added. “We look forward to appealing this matter to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Image via MaxPixel. (CCA-BY-3.0)

The Seattle Times reports that the lawsuit is the latest development in a long-running controversy.

In 2014, Shepherd—then a patrol officer—punched an intoxicated, handcuffed woman, identified by the Times as 23-year-old Miyekko Durden-Bosley.

Shepherd’s alleged misconduct has had lasting consequences, purportedly compromising the city’s efforts to remove federal oversight of its police department.

While the Seattle Police Department tried to terminate Shepherd’s employment after the punching incident, the officer appealed to the department’s Disciplinary Review Board, which—perhaps not very surprisingly—reinstated him as an officer.

Shepherd’s reinstatement was resisted by then-Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, as well as the city’s former police chief, Kathleen O’Toole.

However, the officer’s reinstatement raised eyebrows in the federal judiciary.

U.S. District Judge James Robart, who oversees the city’s compliance with a 2012 Justice Department consent decree, found that Shepherd’s reinstatement violated aspects of the agreement.

In a far-reaching decision, Robart said that the Review Board’s determination was—at least in part—grounds to extend federal monitoring of the city’s law enforcement initiatives.

Robart indicated that Seattle would remain bound by the consent decree until its police department addresses and amends its internal accountability system, which currently allows the Review Board to overturn the police chief’s decision on who should be entitled to wear a badge.

Shepherd, for his part, has defended his actions, saying that he reacted instinctively when Durden-Bosley—who had been arrested for domestic violence—kicked him in the face.

Shepherd said that he had been trying to deescalate the situation.


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