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Calif. city to pay $1.5M to police chief who was wrongly fired for whistleblowing

Anne Kirkpatrick said her firing came in retaliation for exposing abuses of power and corruption within the commission


Former Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.


By George Kelly
East Bay Times

OAKLAND, Calif. — The city council plans to approve a $1.5 million settlement Tuesday to resolve a case brought by former Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick in the wake of her firing by the city’s police commission and mayor two years ago.

Kirkpatrick’s contract was terminated without cause in a special February 2020 meeting by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and the city’s police commission. The former police chief filed suit against the city in August 2020, alleging her firing came in retaliation for exposing abuses of power and corruption within the commission.

This May, a federal jury found in a civil trial that Kirkpatrick had been wrongfully fired for blowing the whistle on some commissioners’ questionable conduct.

That jury found for Kirkpatrick’s whistleblower claim, awarding her $337,635 in damages, the same amount she would have received in severance pay had she not chosen to sue the city in August 2020. But the jury sided with the city against her claim that she was fired for exercising her First Amendment protected-speech rights.

According to a statement by Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker, the settlement includes the jury award, as well as litigation costs of about $250,000 described as deposition and out-of-pocket expenses, and a portion of Kirkpatrick’s attorney’s fees. Parker said the city denies any liability or wrongdoing, and does not admit to any of the former chief’s allegations.

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In separate requests for comment from Mayor Libby Schaaf’s office and the police department, representatives shared Parker’s statement on the settlement’s composition.

The city council authorized the settlement amount in a closed session vote last Thursday, with approval from council members Nikki Fortunato Bas, Noel Gallo, Loren Taylor, Treva Reid and Rebecca Kaplan. Councilmember Sheng Thao abstained, while council members Carroll Fife and Dan Kalb were excused.

In a statement, Kirkpatrick looked back with pride on the verdict, as well as ahead to future endeavors.

“I feel vindicated by the jury’s conclusion that I was fired in retaliation for blowing the whistle on wrongdoing at the Oakland Police Commission. I hope that the agreement in my favor is a signal to all who are witnesses to misconduct, especially those in law enforcement: do not stay silent,” she said.

“Our system depends on people who will do the right thing, even when it is the hard thing,” she continued. “I look forward to putting this chapter behind me and to continuing my career in public service.”


(c)2022 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)