Seattle police Officer Adley Shepherd has been notified he faces firing over punching a handcuffed, intoxicated woman after she kicked him during an arrest in June 2014, according to sources.
Seattle police Officer Adley Shepherd has been notified he faces firing over punching a handcuffed, intoxicated woman after she kicked him during an arrest in June 2014, according to sources familiar with the decision.
Under labor rules, Shepherd, an 11-year-veteran, will be given a chance to meet with Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole to contest the proposed termination.
The Police Department conducted an internal investigation after federal and King County prosecutors declined to bring criminal charges against Shepherd, who has been on paid leave since shortly after the June 22, 2014, incident.
Shepherd, 39, was found to have used excessive force in violation of department policy, according to one source familiar with the finding reached by the department’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA).
Detective Ron Smith, president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, condemned the finding in an email Wednesday.
“This is yet another overreach recommendation from OPA director Pierce Murphy,” Smith wrote, asserting Shepherd had lawfully arrested Miyekko Durden-Bosley when she assaulted Shepherd.
“Officer Shepherd responded immediately to stop the threat and prevent a further assault,” Smith added. “We will prepare for a due-process hearing in front of Chief O’Toole in the coming weeks and dismantle Mr. Murphy’s fantasy.”
Murphy, the OPA’s civilian director, was joined by department officials in recommending Shepherd’s termination to O’Toole.
Smith has previously criticized OPA findings that led O’Toole to fire Officer Cynthia Whitlatch in September over her arrest of an African-American man carrying a golf club as a cane, in what O’Toole labeled a case of biased and overly aggressive policing. Whitlatch has appealed.
In the case involving 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.
Durden-Bosley, who initially was taken into custody for investigation of domestic violence, swore at Shepherd and kicked him while being shoved into the back of a police cruiser.
Shepherd reacted by punching her once in the face, fracturing the orbit of her right eye.
The incident was captured on patrol-car video.
Durden-Bosley has since filed a civil lawsuit against Shepherd and the city of Seattle, pending in U.S. District Court.
Seattle police initially asked for a Washington State Patrol investigation, which turned to the defensive-tactics program manager at the state police academy, Robert Bragg Jr., to review the video and its investigation. He concluded Shepherd’s actions were inappropriate, inconsistent with best practices and inflicted unnecessary injuries.
However, King County prosecutors who reviewed the video and the State Patrol investigation announced in December 2014 that they could not say the force Shepherd used wasn’t necessary.
Shepherd, they concluded, had “acted professionally and with restraint up to the point where he was kicked in the head by the suspect as she was being placed in the patrol car.”
“Officer Shepherd reacted instantaneously to the kick by the suspect, who was wearing boots, with one punch to the suspect’s head which caused a fracture of an orbital socket,” they wrote.
Prosecutors concluded that, in Shepherd’s case, they could not overcome the legal burden that requires them to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the force used by the officer was not necessary.
“While officer Shepherd may have had other options or alternatives, we have concluded that we would be unable to prove that officer Shepherd’s use of force was criminal,” prosecutors wrote.
Federal prosecutors in Seattle declined late last year to bring a criminal civil-rights prosecution that would have required the government to prove Shepherd acted willfully and under the color of law to violate Durden-Bosley’s civil rights.
They also would have been required to show that Shepherd knew what he was doing was wrong, and that there was no “legitimate purpose” for the force used, according to the law.
“Please note that our conclusion that the evidence does not meet the high standard … does not in any way condone the conduct that was the subject of our investigation,” federal attorneys wrote.
Those decisions cleared the way for OPA to move forward with an internal investigation into whether Shepherd violated department policy.
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.