Dear Case Remand

Wednesday, January 11, a four-member Board — lacking a fifth-member chairman — decided to ask the City’s lawyers to ask the district court judge (who had remanded the case back to the Personnel Board) for 3 more months more to give an explanation for the Board’s ruling. Although the issues and the Board’s ruling were not especially complex, the Judge asked the Board members to “explain” their decision reinstating an employee to his position as a police officer.

The City’s lawyers had filed an appeal of the Personnel Board’s ruling returning the employee to work after a short suspension. Although the Board has frequently been accused of acting summarily and with bias against the employees, what made this case newsworthy is that the case is the Personnel Board’s reinstatement of fired APD Officer Jeremy Dear.

Dear is the officer who shot and killed Mary Hawkes more than two years ago. The charge against Dear at the Personnel Board level was limited to his failure to activate body camera to record his citizen contacts. This is the most common offense found by the City’s Civilian Oversight Board, but the other charges that the CPOB is supposed to be investigating and reporting to the public are far more serious. It is still not known whether any criminal charges will be filed against Dear.

Yesterday the Personnel Board decided it needed three more months to respond to the State district court’s demand for an explanation.

[Videos by Charles Arasim]

The Vice-Chair of the current Personnel Board, Dr. T. Zane Reeves, explained that the Board’s composition had changed since its decision on Dear’s appeal of his termination; the former Chairman, Lee Peifer, who wrote the decision, was no longer on the Board. City attorney Samantha Hults informed the Board members that under City rules a tie vote upholds the hearing officer’s ruling, which in this case would uphold the City’s firing of Dear.

Reeves is himself a veteran Board member, Personnel Hearing Officer, and arbitrator. He was fired more than four years ago by CAO Rob Perry, who claimed Reeves was biased and dishonest. He then “won” a one-candidate election after being “nominated” for the Personnel Board position, but only took the seat on the Personnel Board after about a two-year delay and after the AFSCME union took the case to court.

None of this, of course, has anything to do with the real issues behind the delays in addressing the shooting of Mary Hawkes by Jeremy Dear. Nor does it explain the extended failure to get to the evidence and a possible criminal prosecution of Dear for shooting and killing Mary Hawkes.