Amarillo Court of Appeals holds reinstatement is a proper remedy for violations of Chapter 614 by police department

City of Plainview Texas, et al v. Korey Ferguson 07-14-00405-CV (Tex. App.- Amarillo, June 24th 2016)

This is a police disciplinary case under Chapter 614 of the Texas Government Code.

Ferguson was a police officer for the City. He was terminated based on an investigation stemming from a citizen complaint. Amber Washington requested assistance with a domestic matter. When Furguson spoke with her in the police station lobby he asserts she was angry, cursed at him, and uncooperative. He asked her to leave the station, which she refused. As a result, he arrested her for disorderly conduct. The confrontation was recorded on video. The next day, Washington made a verbal then written complaint. Lieutenant Guerra investigated the complaint and requested Ferguson provided a written explanation; however, Ferguson was not given a copy of the Washington complaint at that time. Officers of the department met with Ferguson on March 3, March 9 and March 11 and testified Ferguson was permitted to make a copy of Washington’s complaint at the March 3 meeting.  Ferguson testified he saw the complaint at that meeting, “read it and started kind of skimming through it[,]” but was not then given a copy.  On March 9th Ferguson was terminated. Ferguson filed suit. After a trial the court ordered reinstatement. The City appealed.

The City did not contest the trial court’s findings of fact noting Ferguson did not receive a copy of the complaint within a reasonable time after receipt by the City. The consequence is the City does not contest it violated §614.023 (requiring the providing of a written complaint within a reasonable time). Instead the City assets reinstatement is not a relief which can be granted for non-compliance. The City pointed to numerous pieces of evidence showing Ferguson was unfit to be a police officer. But while such testimony exists, so does evidence supporting the remedy of reinstatement. “A trial court does not abuse its discretion if it bases its decision on conflicting evidence and some evidence supports its decision.”  As a result, the order of reinstatement was not an abuse of discretion. The trial court judgment was affirmed.

To read the opinion click here. Panel consists of Justices Campbell, Hancock and Pirtle. Justice Campbell wrote the opinion. Ken Coughlin and William Mull represent Attorneys Leslie Spear, Lee Ann Reno and Malerie T. Anderson. Leslie Spear and Malerie T. Anderson represent the city of Plainview, Texas. Attorneys for Korey Ferguson are Rachel Nofke, Lance Franklin Wyatt and Randy Doubrava.

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