Cynthia Whitlatch, an 18-year police veteran, appealed her firing for biased and overly aggressive policing over the July 2014 arrest of William Wingate, now 72, on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.
A Seattle police officer fired in fall 2015 for arresting an elderly African-American man who was using a golf club as a cane will receive a lump-sum payment of more than $100,000 in back pay, according to a settlement agreement with the city.
Former Officer Cynthia Whitlatch, an 18-year police veteran, appealed her firing for biased and overly aggressive policing over the July 2014 arrest of William Wingate, now 72, on Capitol Hill.
Wingate, who was held in jail for 30 hours and charged with a misdemeanor crime before his case was dismissed, filed a federal lawsuit and was awarded $325,000 in November after a jury found that Whitlatch engaged in racial discrimination.
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Whitlatch, who is white, denied race played a role in her decision to detain Wingate after he, according to her testimony at trial, swung a golf club toward her patrol car as she drove by him at 12th Avenue and East Pike Street.
Wingate, who was 69 at the time of incident, maintained he never swung the club. The Seattle Police Department later apologized to Wingate over the incident.
Though Whitlatch was the subject of the settlement agreement, it came about as a result of a grievance filed by the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) over her termination because of the untimeliness of her discipline.
Apparently, two commanders were notified of Whitlatch’s conduct during her encounter with Wingate but did not immediately report it, thereby impacting deadlines for discipline to be imposed.
The binding settlement agreement between SPOG and the city “is a compromise of disputed claims” and does not constitute a precedent within the collective-bargaining agreement, the settlement says.
“The city enters into this agreement in order to bring finality to any employment relationship between the city and Whitlatch,” says the agreement, which was signed last week by Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.
Whitlatch will receive a lump sum of $105,570.90 for back pay from the time of her firing in September 2015 through Sept. 15 of this year, according to the agreement. Additionally, SPD will make a lump-sum contribution to her retirement fund for the disputed time, and change her status from “terminated” to “retired in lieu of termination.”
In exchange, Whitlatch agreed not to seek another job with the city or as a commissioned law-enforcement officer, the agreement says.
The cost to engage an arbitrator to reach a settlement agreement will be evenly split between the city and police guild, with each side responsible for paying their own attorneys’ fees.