Officer who punched handcuffed woman defends his actions: 'I used reasonable and necessary force'

SEATTLE - It’s a moment in judgement that derailed Adley Shepherd’s career at Seattle Police.

But nearly five years after he punched a handcuffed woman during an arrest, Shepherd is still steadfast in his convictions that he acted appropriately in that moment.

Shepherd’s case has been in the spotlight since the June 2014 incident, but just last month a federal court judge singled his case out as an example of a lack of accountability in the system.

Federal Judge James Robart took issue with the fact that an arbitrator reversed the city’s decision to fire him. Former Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole made the call to terminate Shepherd.

The edited SPD video shows Shepherd trying to detain a woman during a domestic violence call.

The woman is uncooperative, repeatedly asking him why she was being detained.

Then as Shepherd is putting the handcuffed woman in the back of a patrol car, she kicks him in the face. That’s when he punched her.

“I responded just as I was trained, force was used on me and I used reasonable and necessary force to stop the assault on me,” Shephard said.

Q13 News repeatedly asked Shepherd on Monday about whether punching a handcuffed person was too excessive.

“It’s an ugly incident, it looks ugly not going to downplay that but it was reasonable and necessary. Police work is a tough job and you know a lot of people get their knowledge of police work or what police work should or could be from TV, they don’t necessarily go through the training,” Shepherd said.

He also took aim at the media.

“Irresponsible also just pushing in one direction, you are supposed to be transparent,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd says he had arrested the same woman for a similar call just the year before. That 2013 arrest incident didn’t turn violent, and he is not backing down on what happened during the 2014 arrest.

He says some can still pose a threat even if they are handcuffed.

“They are just as aggressive and violent even though they are handcuffed, they are just as dangerous, Shepherd said.

Shepherd said he followed his training. On Monday the city attorney's office says when it comes to training, the details will play out in court.

But a report by an independent arbitrator states that officers can use force on a handcuffed person only in ‘exceptional circumstances.’

It said the board majority found that Shepherd violated the city’s use of force policy.

The arbitrator said Shepherd did show misconduct but then also said his violation was not ‘proven beyond a reasonable doubt.’

The arbitrator reversed the city’s decision to fire Shepherd, saying it was too severe. They instead called for a 15 day unpaid suspension.

Mayor Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best are fighting the arbitrator’s decision.

“I am not giving up, I am not giving anything up. If I give this up it is setting new precedence for any other officer who gets jammed up in a similar situation,” Shepherd said.

Judge Robart in May extended federal oversight of a consent decree between the feds and the city.

He said SPD was in compliance when it came to training and use of force. But he had issues with the arbitration process, for example in Shepherd’s case. Seattle Police Guild and the city agreed on a new contract last fall after four years of negotiations.

Robart said the accountability measures, including an arbitration process put in place by that contract, are concerning. Robart's concern over accountability is the reason why he extended the oversight on the consent decree.

On Monday, Shepherd called Robart singling out his case in court both disappointing and bizarre. He says it’s unfair to jeopardize the progress SPD has made in reforms in part because of his case.

The case is still under litigation and Mayor Durkan and Best last month said they hope to prevail in court and that their efforts should send a message to Judge Robart.

The woman involved in the arrest from 2014 is Miyekko Durden-Bosley. She settled with monetary awards in a civil case with the city.

Her attorney Tomas Gahan released this statement to Q13 News.

“As Ms. Durden-Bosley's attorneys, and as attorneys vested in protecting the civil rights of all citizens, we share Judge Robart's concerns about Officer Shepherd's reinstatement with the Seattle Police Department.  Officer Shepherd not only punched a young woman who was handcuffed and confined in the back of his patrol car (breaking her orbital bone), his initial decision to arrest Ms. Durden-Bosley was arbitrary and without probable cause.  Reinstating Officer Shepherd after his rightful termination undermines a process set in place precisely to dissuade such conduct.”

Durden Bosley has been charged with 3 separate crimes since Shepherd’s incident.

In August 2016, she was charged with DUI, Hit & Run where she collided with an unattended car and driving with a suspended license. In December 2016 she was charged with an assault and another Hit & Run.

She negotiated a plea deal where she combined the charges from those two days serving 61 days total in jail and a $595 fine.

Then in April 2018 she was charged again for property destruction. She has a review of that case next week.

As for Shepherd, he had a policy violation in 2009. Documents state that he had reported to a domestic violence incident involving two men who had gotten into a physical fight. He arrested one of the roommates but then after consulting with his sergeant released that person because he was not sure if that person was primarily responsible. SPD procedures say officers have to arrest the person mainly responsible during a domestic violence incident.

After the release the man went back home and killed his housemate. The arbitrator’s report stated that Shepherd admitted to acting wrongfully and expressed remorse. He received a 10 day suspension and his superior who signed off on the release received a 15-day suspension.

O'Toole had said the 2009 and 2014 incident showed bad judgement, but the arbitrator found the link between the two cases was tenuous.

Shepherd has never been disciplined in his nine year career except for the 2009 domestic violence incident.