Ex-Police Chief Wins Whistleblower Case Against Oakland
A nine-member jury has determined that former Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick was unlawfully fired in retaliation for speaking out against alleged corruption by members of the Civilian Police Commission. Kirkpatrick has been awarded $337,635 in damages.
The outcome was a tremendous relief for Kirkpatrick, who became emotional on the witness stand while describing the damage the termination had done to her reputation.
Before her 2020 termination, Kirkpatrick sent emails to the city auditor, the mayor, and the city attorney notifying them of what she believed to be misconduct on the part of some commissioners. On Oct. 11, 2019, she filed a “formal complaint” with the city. She was fired just four months later.
The city claimed Kirkpatrick would have been terminated regardless because of issues with her performance. The jury could not find enough evidence to support that.
“The chief has been vindicated. We said all along that she was retaliated against and the jury agreed,” said Kirkpatrick’s attorney James Slaughter.
The jury did side with Oakland in one aspect of the case. It ruled that the city did not violate Kirkpatrick's free speech rights when it moved to terminate her.
“We are grateful to the members of the jury for their service,” Katharine Van Dusen, a lead attorney for the city, told Courthouse News. “After hearing the evidence, they decided that Ms. Kirkpatrick was entitled to nothing more than the severance the city stood willing to pay the day she was terminated.”