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The Oakland City Council has voted to formally settle allegations that Mayor Libby Schaaf and the police commission wrongfully terminated former Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick in 2020.
City councilmembers voted Tuesday to settle the allegations for $1.5 million, according to the city attorney’s office.
The Oakland Police Commission voted 7-0 on Feb. 20, 2020, in favor of terminating Kirkpatrick without cause, a decision Schaaf affirmed. Kirkpatrick then filed a wrongful termination suit against the city. She alleged the city violated her rights to free speech and that she was fired in retaliation for blowing the whistle on alleged misconduct by commissioners.
In May, a jury sided with Kirkpatrick over the whistleblower claim but sided with the city over the free speech claim.
“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.”Anne Kirkpatrick, former Oakland police chief
“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,” Kirkpatrick said in a statement released Monday. “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.”
Kirkpatrick sought more than $3 million in damages. The jury awarded her $337,635, which she was entitled to as severance when she was fired. The balance of the $1.5 million will cover the former chief’s litigation costs of about $250,000 and a portion of her attorney’s fees.
In a resolution agreed to Tuesday, the city denies any wrongdoing and liability and will not admit to any of Kirkpatrick’s allegations.
The City Council authorized the settlement with Kirkpatrick in closed session this past Thursday. Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan and Councilmembers Noel Gallo, Treva Reid, and Loren Taylor voted in favor of the compromise.
Council Pro Tem Sheng Thao abstained, and Councilmembers Carroll Fife and Dan Kalb were excused.
Taylor and Thao are each running for mayor in the fall.
Kirkpatrick has also held senior leadership positions in police departments in Chicago and Spokane, Washington. She plans to continue her career in public service.