"Your termination is effective immediately," Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht wrote in a letter to Deputy Edward Hicks, who was convicted by a Michigan jury of assault and misconduct earlier this week.
King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht on Thursday fired a deputy who was convicted earlier this week of assault and misconduct for punching a man repeatedly in the face in August 2016 while he was working as a police officer in Detroit.
The termination of Deputy Edward Hicks is “effective immediately,” the sheriff wrote in a letter to Hicks, one day after Undersheriff Scott Somers recommended Hicks’ firing.
“I find that we are unable to maintain your employment any longer because our policy clearly provides that we cannot employ anyone with a felony criminal conviction,” says Johanknecht’s letter, which was released to the media.
Hicks, 28, was convicted by a Wayne County, Michigan, jury on Monday of misdemeanor aggravated assault and felony misconduct in office.
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Under Michigan’s penal code, aggravated misdemeanor assault is punishable by up to a year in jail, making it comparable to a gross misdemeanor in Washington. Felony misconduct in office has a maximum punishment of five years in prison, which is the same as a Class C felony here.
Hicks is to be sentenced July 27.
Hicks was hired by the King County Sheriff’s Office in February 2017.
Detroit police provided Hicks’ personnel records to the Sheriff’s Office in November 2016, but didn’t disclose to investigators that Hicks was the subject of an internal investigation into the 2016 incident, according to a sheriff’s news release.
In December, sheriff’s officials learned of the allegations in Michigan and placed Hicks on paid administrative leave. An internal investigation into whether Hicks provided truthful answers on his questionnaire was started, then put on hold while the criminal case against Hicks proceeded, the Sheriff’s Office said.
According to a spokeswoman for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, the case was initially investigated by the Detroit Police Department’s internal investigations unit before it was sent to prosecutors, who conducted their own investigation and charged Hicks on Dec. 20, 2017.
At the time, Worthy’s office outlined the allegations against Hicks in a news release: Around 10 p.m. on Aug. 30, 2016, Hicks and his partner drove up to 31-year-old Deonta Stewart, who was on foot. Hicks yelled for Stewart to stop, but Stewart ran away. During the foot pursuit, Stewart looked back and, realizing he was being pursued by a police officer, stopped running.
Hicks then was accused of punching Stewart numerous times in the face, causing significant facial injuries.
Stewart was arrested. But before Stewart was taken to the Detroit Detention Center, it was alleged that Hicks told him “to give a false statement to the intake officer about his arrest and injuries,” according to the release.
In her letter to Hicks, Johanknecht noted that he is unable to travel to Washington state, and on Wednesday waived his right to respond to the recommendation he be fired. (Presumably, Hicks is under court order not to leave Wayne County.)
“I want to acknowledge your respectful and responsive approach to our communications with you,” Johanknecht wrote. “However, I have no choice but to adopt the recommendation of termination. Your termination is effective immediately.”
She ended her letter by telling Hicks the Sheriff’s Office will “make arrangements to cash out any accrued vacation leave you may have.”
On Wednesday, sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ryan Abbott said an internal investigation into “the entire hiring process” of Hicks under former Sheriff John Urquhart is continuing to determine if something was missed.