The Seattle Community Police Commission has questions over the payment of more than $100,000 to former Officer Cynthia Whitlatch, who was fired for biased and overly aggressive policing over the July 2014 arrest of William Wingate on Capitol Hill.
Members of the Seattle Community Police Commission have questions over the recent settlement agreement to pay a former police officer over $100,000 in back pay after she was fired in 2015 over her arrest of an elderly African-American man.
The commission is seeking a meeting with Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole and City Attorney Pete Holmes and have requested documents related to the settlement, which members only learned of from news reports Wednesday, says a letter signed by Executive Director Fé Lopez.
Former Officer Cynthia Whitlatch, an 18-year police veteran, received the settlement after she appealed her firing for biased and overly aggressive policing over the July 2014 arrest of William Wingate, now 72, on Capitol Hill.
Wingate, who was held in jail for 30 hours and charged with a misdemeanor crime before his case was dismissed, filed a federal lawsuit and was awarded $325,000 in November after a jury found that Whitlatch engaged in racial discrimination.
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His settlement plus legal fees cost taxpayers nearly $1.3 million.
The settlement agreement was signed last week by O’Toole.
Whitlatch, who is white, denied race played a role in her decision to detain Wingate after he, according to her testimony at trial, swung a golf club toward her patrol car as she drove by him at 12th Avenue and East Pike Street.
Wingate, who was 69 at the time of incident, maintained he never swung the club.
“As you’re no doubt aware, there is significant community interest in this case, particularly as the initial dismissal of Officer Whitlatch was widely reported, as was Chief O’Toole’s justification for that outcome,” Lopez wrote. “If there are legitimate reasons consistent with police accountability principles for the back pay agreement and for resignation in lieu of termination, it is important that those reasons be made clear to the public.”
Though Whitlatch was the subject of the settlement agreement, it came about as a result of a grievance filed by the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) over her termination because of the untimeliness of her discipline.
SPOG’s former president, Ron Smith, told…