Oakland, Police chief, lawsuit

Former Oakland Police Chief Files Lawsuit Alleging Wrongful Termination And First Amendment Violation

Ex-Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the city and Mayor Sheng Thao, in an effort to return to his role.

A former police chief in Oakland is suing the city and its mayor on the grounds of wrongful termination. LeRonne Armstrong has now entangled his former work-home and its Mayor Sheng Thao in the lawsuit.

Armstrong and his lawyer claim that he was unlawfully let go from his position in the force in February 2022, allegedly for his critique of the federal government monitoring the department, as reported by ABC7. According to his attorney, Billie Wenter, he was specifically targeted and punished for speaking out about this overseeing of their operations.

“Chief Armstrong was illegally terminated,” explained Wenter, who stated that the firing violated the ex-chief’s First Amendment Right to free speech. “In particular he was retaliated against.”

The lawyer also expressed Armstrong’s passion for his old job and the love he held for his community, but noted that the lawsuit also seeks to expose the “improper purpose” behind the federal monitor, which Oakland has been under for two decades. Currently, the monitor is Robert Warshaw, who the lawsuit names as someone trying to profit off the city through his role.

“The other goal and among others are to continue to reveal and shed some light on the improper purpose behind the monitor continuing to assert these false criticisms against the Oakland police department,” continued Wenter.

However, Armstrong’s chance to return to the force seems extremely slim. Mayor Thao spoke back in October that, despite Armstrong being listed under the Oakland Police Commission’s recommendations for the position he was axed from, she would not approve his reinstatement to the role.

“My direct answer in regard to Mr. LeRonne Armstong is that I am determined to get us out of the federal oversight, which we have been under for the last 20 years, that is not only costing us dollars that we could be spending for our parks and libraries, but it’s also about time we get of it so we can actually do policing work,” she explained. “With that being said, the next police chief is going to have to be able to work with the monitor and with the federal judge as well. And I do believe that, in this case, it will not be LeRonne Armstrong in this case. I do not have the belief that he can lead this city out through that process.”

However, the City Attorney’s Office has released a statement in regards to the suit, stating that they have yet to be served the complaint.

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