Military and Police

Binding Arbitration: Fired Cop to be Rehired, But Leftist City Won’t Even Return Officer’s Calls

I wrote about what I consider police Officer Adley Shepherd’s wrongful termination in my book, “De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State.” Rather than writing about the myriad cops across the country getting screwed by anti-cop social justice warriors, I wrote about only two of the many unfair firings of officers. Since the book was about my view, I chose two cops I know and who are friends of mine. Regardless, their stories reflect the unfair treatment many American law enforcement officers are experiencing.

If you don’t know it, let me catch you up with Officer Shepherd’s story:

As a brief preface, when I first met Adley at the precinct, I told another officer, “Man, that guy is a walking recruiting poster for the department.” He had all the attributes you want in an officer: professional bearing with a friendly and approachable demeanor, physically fit, intelligent, and eager to back up his fellow officers without hesitation—a good cop.

As time passed, I learned more about Adley. He’s a military veteran and a solid family man with a beautiful wife and kids. To this day, I have not met a cop who hasn’t spoken highly of him. He was/is a great police officer who served the citizens of his city well. That is, until the police chief fired him. The city’s residents are less secure in his absence.

There is more online but, here’s the story in brief. One night, Adley responded to a domestic violence incident. During the incident, he arrested an intoxicated female. He handcuffed her and escorted her to his patrol car. As he was placing the suspect into the backseat of his patrol car, she kicked him in the face.

After recoiling from the sudden assault (by the way, a felony, which was never investigated) and shouting, “She kicked me,” Adley reacted instantly with a single punch. After the strike, the suspect repeatedly said, “Officer Shepherd, I’ll give you that, I’ll give you that…” as if understanding his action was in response to her assault. This strike, as he was taught in department training, brought the suspect under control. The suspect suffered a fracture to her orbital (eye) socket.

You can review the incident for yourself on YouTube.

You might think, of course, I’m going to defend a cop—especially, my friend. To be honest, if I didn’t support Adley’s actions, unprompted, I probably wouldn’t write anything. I care about my reputation. I never put my name to anything I write that I don’t stand behind. That’s why I write nothing anonymously.

There are so many factors to consider in this incident. First, handcuffed does not mean harmless—it also doesn’t mean hogtied. I’ve yet to find the magic handcuffs anti-cop folks think must exist that make suspects instantly compliant. Handcuffed suspects have stolen police cars, assaulted officers, and have even killed cops.

Case in point: in 2016, Pima County Sheriff’s Sergeant Mark Bustamante lost an eye while attempting to place an intoxicated female into his patrol car. She was handcuffed and kicked him in the face. Sound familiar?

Back to Adley’s case: Despite several police defensive tactics (DT) instructors, including his own department’s lead DT instructor supporting the actions he took in that fraction of a second of reaction time, then police chief, Kathleen O’Toole, fired Adley.

Current Police Chief Carmen Best, whom I’ve worked for directly, I respect, I admire, and I like is not supporting Adley, which disappoints him. I appreciate the immense political pressure she is under in her unenviable position. But this is a good man’s livelihood and reputation we’re talking about. Her reasoned support would be invaluable in explaining to the community what cops have to do and why uses of force often look so bad.

In fact, police DT expert, Bob Bragg (who was a senior DT instructor when I was in the academy over 25 years ago) said, “[I]t is now my opinion that the ‘punch-response’ was not inconsistent with his training. In fact, SPD does train in the use of a straight punch in response to a physical assault (OPA [Office of Police Accountability] statements) and therefore one could argue that Officer Shepherd’s response [sic] was consistent with his training.”

Over the past two years, Adley’s case has wound through the system. Finally, after binding arbitration, arbiters found that the punishment was excessive. Instead, they said a 15-day suspension was appropriate (no punishment is what is appropriate, but I digress). They determined the city must rehire Adley. In binding arbitration, parties agree they will abide by the arbiters decision.

But, as I’ve written about so often lately, rules and laws mean nothing to the left. A far left, federal, activist judge, James Robart, the person in charge of the bogus (Obama-era) DOJ consent decree inflicted on the city’s cops, ordered the city to explain why Adley should get his job back? What about binding does the judge not understand? Oh, right. The left is not allowed to lose.

Judge Robart is a member of the judicial “resist” faction who ruled against the Trump administration’s travel ban, citing politically partisan justification. But, remember, these social justice warriors are the supreme arbiters of what is right and wrong. Isn’t this attempt by a leftist federal official to obstruct a city’s legal process just another piece of evidence of the damage that occurs when leftists try to fix something that was not broken? And the Seattle Police Department was not broken!

But, it’s not just leftist judges. The city’s leftist administration is playing its games, too—with a man’s life. Adley says the city waited three weeks to inform him of the arbiter’s decision to rehire him. He says the city didn’t want it to affect the city council’s challenge of the new police contract with the city. Officers have worked for four years without a contract. After that delayed initial contact, as of this writing, the city has not rehired Adley, has not updated him, and has not returned any of his calls. And the city is appealing the “binding” arbitration decision. Like I said, the left can never lose.

How can you appeal binding arbitration? Isn’t avoiding appeals the purpose of the parties agreeing to comply with the decision—hence, the binding part? What am I missing? Oh, right. The left lost this one.

When KTTH Radio 770 talk show host Jason Rantz asked Adley if he wished he’d done things differently during the incident, Adley answered that he did. He said he knows how bad it looks. But that was a legitimate tactic taught to him by department DT instructors. But most people don’t understand police work, and anti-cop leftists don’t want to understand. It’s so easy to say you’d do this or that when you have minutes, hours, days, or weeks to review someone’s defensive reactions to a violent suspect. But when you have less than one second to react, it’s different.

Adley is a good cop who’s helped too many people to count while he was patrolling the city. But cop critics don’t care. I’m sure Chief O’Toole was under tremendous pressure to find officers to make examples of to placate those imposing the fraudulent federal consent decree. This anti-cop zealotry has led to officers such as Adley being fired, which is part of the reason for what has become a mass exodus of officers from the Seattle Police Department.

I’ll close with a note sent to Jason Rantz, following an interview he had with Adley, from a person Adley had arrested multiple times:

Officer Shepherd used to arrest me regularly. Ten years ago I was struggling with drug addiction and homelessness. Officer Shepherd must have arrested me at least 5 times. Usually for warrants. He knew me by sight and name. Officer Shepherd ALWAYS treated me with dignity and respect. He would always talk to me about what was going on with me and remind me that there is a better life waiting for me. He’d tell me about his wife and children and ask about my children. If it wasn’t for Officer Shepherd’s genuine concern for a homeless drug addict like myself I don’t know how things would of turned out for me. Today I am completely drug free. I’m gainfully employed. I’m married. I’m a father. I’m a home owner. I owe at least some of my success to the treatment I got from officer Shepherd. I truly hope that this fine officer gets his job back. By the way if you talk to him again tell him my story and tell him ####### says thank you.

I would say this note is remarkable, but it’s not. It only reflects Adley’s nature and how he routinely served his community, doing a job he loved.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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