There is nothing to suggest that Miyekko Durden-Bosley is going to win any citizenship awards for her actions that night.
Durden-Bosley, then 23, was intoxicated and verbally abusive during the incident outside the home of a Seattle man whose mother had called the police. Shepherd, the first of three officers to arrive at the scene, ultimately told her and the man he was losing his patience with their contradictory explanations.
As the video shows, dealing with Durden-Bosley wasn’t a pleasant task.
But for the officer involved, 42-year-old Adley Shepherd, this is part of the job, dealing with drunk, annoying, non-compliant people. But what of her kick?
After Shepherd arrested Durden-Bosley for investigation of domestic violence, she swore at Shepherd and kicked at him while he shoved her into the back of the patrol car. “She kicked me,” Shepherd shouted, before punching her.
“It was uncontroverted that Ms. Durden-Bosley’s kick landed in Officer Shepherd’s face and she was wearing Doc Marten brand boots,” according to a summary of the evidence reviewed during the appeal.
It’s not quite uncontroverted, according to her lawyer, Tomás Gahan.
“While Officer Shepherd claims he hit her because she kicked him, a forensic review of the video did not conclude that Ms. Durden-Bosley’s leg even connected with Officer Shepherd,” Gahan said in an email.
After the kick, after Shepherd exclaimed that she kicked him, as she was in the back seat of the patrol car, he then punched, breaking her orbital bone. As a result, Shepherd was fired.
Shepherd, 42, was fired in November 2016 after then-Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole found he had violated department policies regarding use of force and de-escalating confrontations, according to a termination report.
“OPA concluded, and I concur, that the employee’s conduct was in stark contrast to the expectations set forth for our officers, and particularly our heightened duty of care to those in our custody,” O’Toole said in a statement posted on the department’s website.
The union grieved the discharge, and an arbitrator reduced the punishment to a 15-day suspension, with back pay for the time lost since 2016.
A 15-day suspension “is intended to send that message,” Wilkinson wrote. “Alternatives to the use of injury-producing force must be employed when such measures can be used to accomplish the officer’s legitimate objectives. When a subject is handcuffed, those alternatives must be used unless greater force is needed to prevent injury, escape or property destruction.”
It’s notable, as an aside, that the “neutral” arbitrator of the three arb panel includes “prevent…property destruction” in his description of justified use of “greater force.” After all, what’s the beating of a cuffed human being if there’s property to be damaged?
But the core problem here is that many see Shepherd’s reaction as justified, whether because Durden-Bosley was non-complaint, kicked or just too annoying for anyone to tolerate. This is where people fail to consider a critical distinction between how a non-cop would react from how a police officer is expected to perform the functions of his position.
Was she non-compliant and annoying? Sure, but so what? Aside from being drunk, and preferring not to get arrested (regardless of the basis for arrest), recalcitrant citizens are neither new nor surprising. People are weird that way, not wanting to be arrested. This might strike the non-lawyer as a big thing, but it isn’t, and shouldn’t be, remarkable to a cop.
Then there was the kick, which might have landed on his face and been painful, or might not. It’s unclear from the video whether, or how much, damage was done by the kick, but it doesn’t matter. Durden-Bosely was under arrest and cuffed. Whether she kicked, or worse, was another charge to add when she was booked, but the punch that followed was a completely independent act by Shepherd. It had nothing to do with defending himself from her, but there was a pause, a mumbled “she kicked me,” and then pay back.
It doesn’t matter whether you think he was entitled to a punch after being kicked. It doesn’t matter whether you would have reacted similarly, whether she had it coming. As a police officer, his authority to use force was limited to defense, and this was an attack. As a cop, his duty was not to punish her for kicking him, but to exercise restraint even though she kicked him. This isn’t about how you would react, but how Shepherd should have reacted.
Whether discharge was the proper remedy for Shepherd’s punch is a secondary dilemma. Ordinarily, the question of proper consequences would be left to the chief of police, as it’s her responsibility to keep her cops in line and prevent them from beating people. She exercised her authority by firing him. But because the force was subject to a union contract, the discharge was appealed to an arbitration panel, and Shepherd was reinstated to the force.
“We are disappointed that after such conduct, Officer Shepherd is permitted to return to duty, and can only hope that he acts with more restraint in the future.”
Should Shepherd fail to act with “more restraint in the future,” the neutral arbitrator, Jane Wilkinson, won’t be the one apologizing to the next victim, or her family should she not survive.