United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
HONORABLE RICHARD A. JONES
matter comes before the Court on Defendant City of
Bellevue's (“City” or
“Defendant”) Motion for Summary Judgment
Dismissal of Plaintiff's Claims. Dkt. # 26. Plaintiff opposes
the Motion. Dkt. # 43. For the reasons stated below, the
Court GRANTS the Motion.
Plaintiff's Performance at Bellevue Police
an African American man, lateralled to the Bellevue Police
Department (BPD) from the Georgia Sheriff's Department.
Dkt. # 1 (Complaint) at ¶¶ 1.1, 4.1-4.4, 4.6. BPD
required Plaintiff to complete a twelve-month probationary
period, pass the field training program (“FTO
program”), and graduate from the lateral police
academy. Id. at ¶ 4.7; see also Dkt. #
27-1 at 7. In the FTO program, officers progress through
several rotations and are evaluated on a scale of 1-7 for
different performance categories. See generally Dkt.
# 28-1 at 44-285. Categories include appearance, attitude,
knowledge, performance, and relationships. Id.
Officers are ready to be assigned to a patrol squad once they
receive at least a 4 in each category. Dkt. # 44-1 at 64.
began the first rotation of his FTO program in February 2015.
Dkt. # 28-1 at 44. Officer Quayle supervised Plaintiff during
this rotation. Id. Plaintiff consistently received
sub-4 marks in the knowledge and performance categories.
Id. at 44-87. In March 2015, Plaintiff began the
second rotation of his FTO program. Dkt. # 28-1 at 88.
Officers Bement and Jones supervised Plaintiff during this
rotation. Id. Plaintiff was still receiving sub-4
marks in several categories. Id. at 88-159. On March
25, 2015, Officer Bement completed an end of rotation
evaluation for Plaintiff, writing that he did “not
recommend that Officer Williams move on to the next phase of
his training.” Id. at 320.
light of Plaintiff's evaluations in the first two
rotations of the FTO program, BPD “unplugged” or
“disconnected” him from the program. Dkt. ## 26
at 2, 43 at 4. This allowed Plaintiff to receive six
additional weeks of remedial training. Id. During
this time, officers noted that Plaintiff was “doing
very well” but still needed to improve in certain areas
“if he wants to meet the minimum acceptable standard
for a solo officer.” Dkt. ## 44-1 at 281, 28-1 at 329.
2015, Plaintiff returned to the FTO program for the third
rotation. Dkt. # 28-1 at 160. Corporal Burgos oversaw this
rotation. Id. Plaintiff was still receiving sub-4
marks until May 22, 2015, at which point Plaintiff received
an evaluation with nearly all 4's and two 5's.
Id. at 160-80. On May 31, 2015, Plaintiff began
rotation three-and-a-half, supervised by Officer Barnwell.
Id. at 202. Plaintiff did well at the start of this
rotation, earning nearly all 4's in each category.
Id. Plaintiff's evaluations were consistently
strong, with only a few evaluations evidencing sub-4 marks.
Id. at 202, 205, 210.
17, 2015, Plaintiff entered his final rotation in the FTO
program. Id. at 225. Officer Perreira evaluated
Plaintiff during this phase. Id. at 225-69.
Plaintiff's scores dropped in both the knowledge and
performance categories and continued to be low until the end
of the program. Id. In early July 2015, Captain
Mathieu noted Plaintiff's continuing deficiencies and
asked Officer Peacey to work with Plaintiff for two
additional weeks. Dkt. # 29-1 at 6, 8. Plaintiff confirmed
with Captain Mathieu that he understood the concerns and what
he needed to do over the next two weeks with Officer Peacey.
Id. at 11. Officer Peacey began working with
Plaintiff and soon thereafter Plaintiff received 4's in
each category. Dkt. # 28-1 at 272-281. However, BPD wanted
Plaintiff to show “a sustained consistent
ability” to perform his duties adequately. Dkt. # 29 at
17, 2015, the FTO review board agreed that Plaintiff was
“ready for assignment to a patrol squad for the
remainder of his probation.” Dkt. # 29-1 at 13. The new
assignment did not mean that Plaintiff had graduated to full
status as a police officer; he was “still supposed to
be very closely monitored by the Corporals and Sergeants on
their squad.” Dkt. # 29 at ¶ 14. Per the
assignment, Plaintiff joined Lt. Buck's squad.
Id. at ¶ 15. Lt. Buck's first monthly
evaluation regarding Plaintiff was due at the end of August.
Id. at ¶ 16. The evaluation reiterated concerns
that Plaintiff was performing inadequately in several
categories. Dkt. # 29-1 at 24-36. On September 9, 2015, Lt.
Popochock sent a memo to Captain Mathieu outlining
Plaintiff's continued deficiencies and recommending that
Plaintiff “be removed from the probation program and
terminated.” Id. at 84. Captain Mathieu met
with Chief Mylett and several other lieutenants, corporals,
and officers who had supervised Plaintiff and discussed Lt.
Popochock's memo and the best course of action in light
of Plaintiff's continued performance issues. Dkt. ## 29
at ¶ 29, 37 at ¶ 19. After the meeting, Captain
Mathieu recommended that Plaintiff be terminated.
Id. at ¶ 30. Chief Mylett terminated
Plaintiff's employment effective September 15, 2015. Dkt.
# 37-1 at 414-15.
Officer Kevin Quayle's Racist Text Message
2015, Officer Quayle was on medical leave for a broken leg
when his ex-girlfriend came to the BPD with allegations of
misconduct. Dkt. # 26 at 7. Based on the allegations, BPD
began a Formal Standards Investigation into Quayle's
conduct. See generally Dkt. # 44-1 at 167-239.
During the investigation, Quayle's ex-girlfriend produced
several offensive text message exchanges, including one in
which Quayle wrote that if he “didn't have the
chocolate face I would bang in sick[.]” Id. at
189. Quayle was referring to Plaintiff.
August 18, 2015, Lt. Ingram brought the racist message to
Plaintiff's attention. Dkt. # 44-1 at 163. Lt. Ingram
asked Plaintiff if the text was racist or discriminatory, to
which Plaintiff responded “Yes.” Id. Lt.
Ingram asked Plaintiff how he felt about the text, and
Plaintiff explained that the text was “a little
disturbing, ” especially in light of the working
relationship Plaintiff thought he had with Quayle.
Id. The next day, Chief Mylett called Plaintiff
“because he was concerned about him.” Dkt. # 37
at 13. Chief Mylett asked Plaintiff what he thought about the
situation, and Plaintiff responded that “it's going
to be bad for Bellevue if Quayle went on some type of call
and actually shot-did something to a minority, that would
look bad for the department.” Dkt. # 44-1 at 49. He
explained that if “[a]nybody found out about this thing
it would make him look worse on the department.”
Id. at 50. Plaintiff “specifically gave [Chief
Mylett] the example of the Michael Brown incident that
happened in Ferguson, and [Plaintiff] told [Chief Mylett]
that with all the shootings that's going on of white
officers and minorities, that was troublesome.”
Id. at 52. Chief Mylett agreed with Plaintiff.
Id. at 50, 52. Less than a month later, Chief Mylett
terminated Plaintiff's employment.
claims that Lt. Buck and Quayle were good friends, and
therefore Lt. Buck retaliated against Plaintiff by drafting a
scathing evaluation that led to his termination. Dkt. ## 43
at 7, 44-1 at 149. The BPD asserts that it fired Quayle for
misconduct, and that Plaintiff's comments in response to
the investigation were not the basis for Plaintiff's
termination. Dkt. # 37-1 at 457 (stating that Quayle's
termination was effective January 29, 2016); see
also Dkt. # 26. The BPD emphasizes that Plaintiff's
consistent inconsistencies in performance is what led to his
September 12, 2017, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed all
claims against Chief Mylett and dismissed his Title VII and
harassment claims against the City of Bellevue. Dkt. # 55.
Plaintiff also dismissed his claims for punitive damages.
Id. At issue in this motion are Plaintiff's
remaining race discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful
judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving
party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Where the moving
party will have the burden of proof at trial, it must
affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact
could find other than for the moving party. Calderone v.
United States, 799 F.2d 254, 259 (6th Cir. 1986). On an
issue where the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof
at trial, the moving party can prevail merely by pointing out
to the district court that there is an absence of evidence to
support the non-moving party's case. Celotex
Corp., 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving party meets the
initial burden, the opposing party must set forth specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue of fact for trial
in order to defeat the motion. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The court must view the
evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party
and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.
Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., 530 U.S. 133,
150-51 (2000). Credibility determinations and the weighing of
the evidence are jury functions, not those of a judge.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
the court need not, and will not, “scour the record in
search of a genuine issue of triable fact.” Keenan
v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see
also, White v. McDonnel-Douglas Corp., 904 F.2d 456, 458
(8th Cir. 1990) (the court need not “speculate on which
portion of the record the nonmoving party relies, nor is it
obliged to wade through and search the entire record for some
specific facts that might support the nonmoving party's
claim”). The opposing party must present significant
and probative evidence to support its claim or defense.
Intel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co.,
952 F.2d 1551, 1558 (9th Cir. 1991). Uncorroborated
allegations and “self-serving testimony” will not