Spokane's former police chief, Frank Straub, has filed a $4 million claim against the city for violation of due process.
Straub was forced out of the department a few weeks ago after complaints surfaced from high-ranking officers about his leadership style.
In letters to City Attorney Nancy Isserlis dated Sept. 18, the officers complained about emotional outbursts, personal attacks, use of profanity, untruthfulness and threats regarding employment, among other things. Before a news conference on the afternoon of September 22, those letters were given to reporters to provide justification for Straub's removal. The fact that the letters containing the allegations against Straub were made public without giving him a chance to respond is a violation of due process law, says Mary Schultz, Straub's lawyer.
"You can release or reassign a police chief. He's an at-will employee," she says. "But what you can't do is send out a bunch of attorney client confidential letters without letting the person accused of these things address them."
In the claim, Straub denies that he resigned. In a letter to the city Schultz writes:
"You fired Chief Straub on Monday morning, Sept. 21, 2015. City administrator Teresa Sanders texted him at 6:39 a.m. on Monday, September 21st, and required him to report to the Mayor for a 7:00 a.m. 'meeting' of unannounced content. ... [Straub] was told he was being discharged that day unless he immediately submitted his resignation. He was told of the existence of the letters, but not shown the letters. He asked for an investigation, and was denied. His termination was already a fact."
Schultz alleges that the city dumped Straub for political reasons. "This was an engineered process to damage Frank Straub and enhance the mayor's standing."
“This is unfortunate as we would like to move the Spokane Police Division forward without distraction," Mayor David Condon said in an emailed statement. "We received a signed resignation letter Tuesday morning, but because of a pending claim cannot comment further.”
A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that the claim was for wrongful termination. In fact, the suit is for violation of due process in the manner of termination.
Read the entire claim below: