Fired APD lieutenant takes the stand in suit against the city

Published: Oct. 23, 2018 at 1:26 PM AKDT
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Lt. Tony Henry, a former SWAT and K9 handler with the Anchorage Police Department, is on the witness stand Tuesday in his federal wrongful termination lawsuit against the Municipality of Anchorage.

Dressed in a slate-grey suit, Henry climbed into the witness stand, stood, leaned his right arm casually onto the mantel separating him and the judge, and then, just before jurors streamed in, walked over and bent a long courtroom microphone toward his seat.

The former Army police officer and office of criminal investigations agent had joined the Anchorage Police Department in 1992, graduating as that year's honor recruit from the training academy.

Meg Simonian, one of Henry's attorneys, wasted no time cutting to the chase.

Her first question: "Is the truth the truth?"

"The truth is the truth," Henry answered.

Whose version of the truth is the most reliable is a key issue jurors must discern as the trial progresses. The city has one version, Henry another.

Henry lost his job as a career officer in the wake of a 97-page report, commissioned by the city and performed by an outside investigator.

The report accused Henry of improperly disclosing confidential information that blew the cover of informants and disrupted ongoing drug investigations and, potentially, dissuaded sexual assault victims from coming forward.

Henry's legal team has spent the last several days dismantling the reliability of that conclusion. They argue the real reason Henry was let go was a sustained, targeted campaign to oust him.

Simonian continued, asking her client: Whether he'd given Thomas Katkus, the adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard, the name of Eddie Prieto, a confidential informant in a drug case? Whether he (Henry) was aware of a separate investigation into drug activity within the Alaska National Guard? Whether he had ever lied about what transpired during two key meetings? Whether Lt. Col. Kenneth Blaylock, a prominent figure in the swirling rumors of cover-ups and misconduct, was ever a confidential source or informant?

Henry's answered "No" to the cascade of questions.

"Did you at any time in 2010, or ever, disclose information that impacted any investigation?" Simonian asked.

"No I did not," Henry answered.

Simonian went on to ask Henry about his experience at APD, what assignments he'd received toward the end of his career, and about treatment he experienced that he felt was retaliatory.

It started, Henry said, when he'd stood up for a fellow officer he believed was being unfairly treated over a medical condition. That is. superiors were using the officer's medical condition -- multiple sclerosis -- to transition the officer, also a former SWAT and K9 member, out of assignments and positions.

On the stand, Henry described a culture where his office was moved close to the chief's office, where his home car was swapped out for a fleet jalopy, where later assignments were always at posts away from APD headquarters, and unusual restrictions were placed on his scope of work.

All of it, Henry believed, was meant to send a message to the rank and file: Don't do what Henry did or the same could happen to you.

Henry had also learned that his personnel file was filling up with write-ups. And that an unusual number of people were dipping into his internal affairs file, even though there was not an active internal affairs inquiry going on that involved Henry.

The Municipality of Anchorage has not yet presented its case, though it has indicated it will defend its decision to terminate Henry.

Henry, the son of a World War II veteran, told jurors he'd wanted to be a police officer since his childhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

"It's pretty much the only thing I ever wanted to do," Henry said.