Press Release: “Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick was Fired in Retaliation for Exposing Oakland Police Commission Corruption, Abuse of Power, According to Whistleblower Lawsuit Filed Today. Kirkpatrick Seeks Damages from City for Retaliatory Firing.”
San Francisco — Attorneys for former Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick filed a whistleblower lawsuit today alleging that she was fired in retaliation for challenging corruption and abuse of power by members of the Oakland Police Commission.
“Rather than address the serious issues Chief Kirkpatrick raised, the City of Oakland, through Mayor Libby Schaaf and the members of Police Commission, fired the most progressive police chief in the city’s history for blowing the whistle on the Commission’s misconduct,” said attorney R. James Slaughter of the law firm of Keker Van Nest & Peters, which filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (see attachment of filed lawsuit).
The suit alleges that Oakland Police Commissioners routinely abused their power, corruptly looked for special treatment from the Police Department, frequently abused and harassed OPD staff, interfered in day-to-day police operations, and sought unlawful access to confidential documents. Chief Kirkpatrick was wrongfully terminated for standing up to the Commission’s misconduct and reporting its unlawful actions.
Chief Kirkpatrick’s suit seeks monetary damages that includes lost pay, benefits, and damages for loss of future earnings through injury to her professional reputation due to her wrongful termination.
The lawsuit alleges that Kirkpatrick served with success and distinction as chief of police. During Chief Kirkpatrick’s three-year tenure, the Oakland’s homicide rate decreased to its lowest level in 20 years and the City was on pace for a 64-year low homicide rate at the time of her termination. Her reform efforts included OPD’s implementation of new policies, strategy, and training around police-citizen encounters.
“But a series of incidents involving individual Police Commissioners ultimately drove the Chief to submit multiple reports of inappropriate and unlawful conduct to the Oakland City Attorney’s Office, the City Administrator, and the Mayor of Oakland—the officials she understood had the capacity to take action to stop the Commissioners’ unlawful conduct and prevent future recurrences,” according to the lawsuit.
But City leaders all ignored Chief Kirkpatrick’s repeated reports of Commission misconduct. “Instead, the Police Commission and Mayor orchestrated Chief Kirkpatrick’s termination in retaliation for the Chief’s repeated whistleblowing,” the lawsuit states.
Among the illegal actions that the lawsuit details are how Commissioners Ginale Harris and Jose Dorado made illegal demands of the police department for personal gain; that Commissioner Harris sought to have a towing ticket fixed and publically made derogatory remarks toward a Black public defender; and that the commission itself was inappropriately directing Oakland Police Department staff.
By late fall of 2019 the Commission was publicly bullying and berating Chief Kirkpatrick’s staff at Commission hearings. Chief Kirkpatrick wrote a formal complaint that highlighted “her belief that the commissioners’ behavior could be retaliation for the Chief’s report of Harris’s challenge to her tow ticket,” according the lawsuit. The City and Commission’s behaviors and attitudes were an impediment to the cultural transformation of OPD that the Chief was working so hard on within the department. The city and commission were not only acting illegally, but eroding Chief Kirkpatrick’s reform efforts.
“The facts will show that Chief Kirkpatrick repeatedly blew the whistle on corrupt actions by the Police Commission, shining a light on their illegal actions, inappropriate influence, abuse of powers, and harassment of city staff,” Slaughter added. “In retaliation, Mayor Libby Schaaf and the Police Commission unlawfully fired her for blowing the whistle on these illegal actions by Police Commissioners.”
This post based on press release from Singer Associates to Zennie62Media, Inc.
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