The president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild called the firing of officer Adley Shepherd “a travesty; it’s an injustice.”
Seattle police Officer Adley Shepherd was fired Wednesday for punching a handcuffed, intoxicated woman in the face after she kicked him during a June 2014 incident captured on patrol-car video.
Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole found Shepherd violated department policies regarding use of force and de-escalating confrontations, according to a termination report.
“The Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) concluded, and I concur, that the employee’s conduct was in stark contrast to the expectations set forth for our officers, and particularly our heightened duty of care to those in our custody,” O’Toole said in a statement posted on the department’s website.
The June 22, 2014, incident, which occurred a day before O’Toole was sworn in as chief, evolved into a long-running legal and internal-review process.
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The OPA conducted an internal investigation after federal and King County prosecutors declined to bring criminal charges against Shepherd, who was placed on paid leave shortly after the incident.
In her report, O’Toole wrote that Shepherd’s punch of the woman while she was inside a patrol car violated department policy requiring use of force to be reasonable, necessary and proportional.
She wrote that Shepherd had other options, including expanding on his initial reaction to step away from the woman’s leg reach. Rather, he escalated the situation, the report said.
Shepherd also could have gotten help from two other officers at the scene; simply closed the door; or stepped back to reassess a situation where there was no immediate threat, O’Toole wrote.
“Patience, and the ability to maintain control of emotions and actions, are paramount requirements for a police officer,” she wrote, noting the punch, which fractured the orbit of the woman’s right eye, could have been lethal.
The decisions to not bring criminal charges are “not material to whether your use of force was excessive under the substantially higher standard set forth under Department policy,” the report said.
During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Kevin Stuckey, president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, decried the decision to fire Shepherd. “We’re disappointed,” he said.
Stuckey said six use-of-force experts interviewed during the internal investigation supported Shepherd’s use of force, finding it fell within department policy.
But OPA relied on the single opinion of an expert in California, who was interviewed by phone, Stuckey said.
“What’s happened to Officer Shepherd is a travesty; it’s an injustice,” Stuckey said of the officer’s firing.
Shepherd, 40, who joined the department in 2005, is married with two young daughters, Stuckey said.
He said Shepherd adhered to his training, and the guild will appeal his firing if he requests it.
The guild has maintained Shepherd lawfully arrested the woman, Miyekko Durden-Bosley, after she assaulted Shepherd.
Durden-Bosley, then 23, was intoxicated and verbally abusive during her arrest outside the home of a Seattle man whose mother had called the police.
After being arrested for investigation of domestic violence, she swore at Shepherd and kicked him while being shoved into the back of the patrol car. Shepherd reacted by punching her once in the face.
Shepherd and Durden-Bosley were both treated at Harborview Medical Center.
After he was kicked, Shepherd is heard on the video saying, “My jaw is jacked,” and complained of soreness in his jaw and a shooting pain in his face. However, medical records showed “no obvious injury.”
Durden-Bosley was taken to jail after her injuries were treated, and spent four days there before the case was dismissed.
Earlier this year, Durden-Bosley settled a civil lawsuit against the city for $195,000, according to the Seattle City Attorney’s Office. The sum included her attorneys’ fees.
Leaders of the NAACP in Seattle criticized King County prosecutors for not bringing a felony assault charge against Shepherd.
Calling the punch a retaliatory act, a NAACP official likened the case to the deaths of two black men, Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Missouri, and the decisions of grand juries not to indict white police officers for their killings.
Shepherd is African American, as is Durden-Bosley.