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Oakland has spent millions fighting former police chief’s successful lawsuit

on June 3, 2022

Oakland has spent almost $2.9 million to date to defend a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by former police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick. 

A federal jury last Saturday, finding the city had no grounds to fire Kirkpatrick, awarded her $337,645 in damages — an amount equal to a year’s compensation. 

Ryan Richardson, Oakland special counsel, said the award was “equivalent of the one-year severance the City was ready and willing to pay when she was terminated in 2020.”

According to an expense report provided by Richardson, Oakland has spent $2.887 million on the lawsuit, not including the amount awarded by the jury. With the window to appeal still open, it’s too soon to know if Kirkpatrick will seek or be awarded attorney’s costs or other fees, Richardson said. 

The city has not decided if it will appeal the decision. 

Kirkpatrick, the first woman to lead the department when she was hired in 2017, filed the lawsuit in August 2020, claiming she was fired after repeatedly raising concerns about abuse of power within the Police Commission.

“For nearly three years, Chief Kirkpatrick raised a series of alarms about this Commissioner misconduct, which she believed violated the law,” the suit stated. “Those alarms went largely unheeded.” 

Kirkpatrick and her lawyers also claimed the city had violated her First Amendment rights by firing her and thus prohibiting her from speaking out against the alleged misconduct. 

The jury ruled in favor of Kirkpatrick on the retaliation claim but against her on the First Amendment issue, awarding her only actual damages. 

Kirkpatrick is now doing consulting work, according to her Linkedin page. 

Her attorney could not be reached for comment.   


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