Fired for her actions in a “walking while black” case, former Capitol Hill cop Cynthia Whitlatch will “have her termination record changed to a retirement” and has been granted years of backpay, KIRO reports.
The back pay is more than $105,000 in two lump payments, paying her for 90 hours a month for the time since she was fired. All sustained findings by the Office of Professional Accountability about Whitlatch’s conduct will remain in place.
Whitlatch has her union to thank for the settlement. The Seattle Times reports the appeal of her firing was brought in “a grievance filed by the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) over her termination because of the untimeliness of her discipline.”
Apparently, two commanders were notified of Whitlatch’s conduct during her encounter with Wingate but did not immediately report it, thereby impacting deadlines for discipline to be imposed.
The Stranger reported on the union’s complaints here in late 2015:
SPOG is claiming that the six-month clock for finishing the investigation really started ticking in September when the community members’ complaints were lodged with Captain Davis, even though Captain Davis didn’t refer those complaints to the OPA (which means OPA didn’t know about the meeting between Captain Davis and community advocates, or even about the Wingate arrest itself, until it was reported in The Stranger in January of this year). Even then, the union argues that as soon as Murphy learned in January about the concerns connected to the Wingate arrest, he should have asked the union for an extension of the six-month deadline, since it turned out some concerns about the Wingate arrest were first raised in September with Captain Davis. The union’s contract states that SPOG cannot “unreasonably deny” such extension requests.
The East Precinct officer was fired for racial bias for her actions in a 2014 Capitol Hill arrest. William Wingate was arrested and exonerated following the summer 2014 incident at 12th and Pike in which the city eventually apologized for the actions of Whitlatch after she took the then 69-year-old black man into custody for allegedly swinging a golf club he used as a cane in a manner she said she found threatening. Outcry followed and many pointed at the incident as further evidence of the need for reform at Seattle Police. Last year, a federal jury found Whitlatch had violated Wingate’s civil rights and awarded him $325,000 for the actions of the veteran officer.
Prior to the jury decision, Whitlatch was fired in 2015 for “sustained policy violations involving bias, abuse of police discretion, and escalation of a contact” in the Wingate arrest. The union’s appeal of the firing had been playing out for months before this summer’s settlement.