Anchorage cop wins case against the city for wrongful termination
Following a month-long trial in his wrongful termination lawsuit, former Anchorage police Lt. Anthony Henry won his case Friday, getting damages of just over $2 million.
"You got your name back," said Ray Brown, one of the Henry's attorneys, smacking Henry on the shoulders.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline, who presided over the case, read the verdict in his courtroom in downtown Anchorage. The eight jurors who decided the case told Beistline their verdict was unanimous.
The jurors said Henry had been wrongfully terminated by the municipality and that he was owed compensation because of it.
Henry sued the city after he was fired in early 2015, months after a scathing internal report claimed Henry had blown the cover of an undercover informant within the Alaska National Guard, and that Henry’s Chief, Mark Mew, had not been bold enough in managing Henry’s perceived infractions.
But Henry's attorneys argued that the internal report was deeply flawed and that Henry was actually fired for standing up for another officer diagnosed with a mild case of multiple sclerosis.
Henry's attorneys argued the case boiled down to "standing up against bullies."
One of Henry's attorney, Meg Simonian, said in an interview that the city should have known it had a losing case and shouldn't have pursued it.
The jury deliberated just a day. Simonian said she thought things were looking up for her side when the jury asked a single question Friday morning: can they have a calculator.
In a prepared statement, Anchorage municipal attorney Rebecca Windt Pearson said she was “disappointed” by the verdict but didn’t want to comment more because the city might appeal. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said the police department had changed under new management: in place of chief Mew is Justin Doll, and there were new team of leaders.
“Today, APD is under new leadership and has a renewed commitment to honoring the public trust and the highest standards and practices of police conduct. Chief Doll and his command staff have taken steps to ensure that we comply with those standards and practices every day,” Berkowitz said.
Henry said he was too shaken by the case to answer questions. But he said he would go back to his current job in Iraq for at least a little while. He has been working for the private military contractor Triple Canopy protecting U.S. officials.
The city will be instructed to pay him $2.286 million in damages, though the verdict could be reduced by federal lawsuit rules, Brown said.