Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. CV-91-02856-SC. Samuel Conti, District Judge, Presiding.
Before: Otto R. Skopil, Jr., David R. Thompson, and Pamela Ann Rymer, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Skopil.
Frank McCoy appeals the district court's dismissal of his civil rights action, contending that the court erred by holding that the action was time barred. We agree, and reverse and remand for further proceedings. We decline to affirm on the alternative grounds raised by appellees.
McCoy, a San Francisco Police Homicide Inspector, brought this civil rights action against the city and county of San Francisco, the police chief, various officers within the police department, and attorneys representing the department and city. McCoy alleges that these defendants conspired to deny him his civil rights in conjunction with disciplinary action taken against him that culminated in a two-day suspension.
The underlying facts are undisputed. McCoy and other officers were investigated by the police department regarding a citizen's complaint filed as a result of the officers' alleged conduct at the scene of a murder on November 28, 1987. McCoy complained that the investigative report was inaccurate and was expressly intended to damage his reputation.
A second investigation resulted in a recommendation that no charges be brought against McCoy. The Chief nevertheless charged McCoy with two violations of the department's general orders. The charges were reviewed by the Police Commission and hearings were conducted throughout 1989. At the Conclusion of its meeting on January 3, 1990, the Commission voted unanimously to dismiss all charges against McCoy. The Commission's final written decision was released three weeks later on January 22, 1990.
During the department's investigation of McCoy, it came to light that on May 17, 1988 McCoy had telephoned the citizen who initiated the complaint. The citizen filed a second complaint based on the telephone call. As a result of that complaint, the Chief decided to suspend McCoy for two days.
The suspension was appealed to the Police Commission. Hearings were conducted on May 7, June 5, and August 29, 1990. At the Conclusion of the August 29 hearing, the Commission ruled orally that:
It is the unanimous decision of the Commission to sustain the Chief as to the charge involving the call to Complainant [citizen].
That's the decision and as to penalty, needless to say, which was a two day suspension. Thank you.
Shortly thereafter defendants submitted proposed findings of fact to the Commission.
On September 13, 1990 a written decision was issued by the Police Commission which summarized the evidence presented against McCoy, recited the language of the general order found to have been violated, and concluded that the Chief's decision was sustained by a preponderance of ...