Its’ been almost a year since Minneapolis police officer Blayne Lehner was fired for what at the time was labeled excessive force.
An arbitrator has decided that the city was wrong to fire Lehner in January for his use of force. The city’s been ordered to rehire him, “reduce his discipline to an unpaid suspension of 40 hours and pay him lost compensation and benefits,” the Star Tribune reported.
The 18-year veteran was fired over the way he handled a domestic disturbance call in 2014 involving two women in south Minneapolis. The Tribune reports that the apartment building manager provided officials with video of the incident after he complained to the dept.
Lehner was accused of using excessive force when he pushed one of the women to the ground. The city also said he did not report the use of force and called the woman a disparaging name.
The arbitrator ruled earlier this month that Lehner’s use of force was “on the mild side” and “not substantially inappropriate,” since the woman was being uncooperative. The woman was also not injured during the incident.
Police Chief Janee Harteau said Tuesday she was disappointed in the decision, adding that, “These rulings hinder my ability as a police chief to create an effective culture of accountability with the dept.”
Initially Harteau said that she’d lost all confidence in Lehner’s ability to serve the citizens of Minneapolis due to his “poor judgment and lack of integrity.”
After Lehner’s firing, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis appealed the decision. The union president said, after the arbitrator’s decision was made public, that the city is lucky to have Lehner back, calling him a “hardworking officer.”
It’s unclear when Lehner will report back to work or what job he’ll be assigned to. The Tribune reports that his 40 hour unpaid suspension will be deducted from his back-pay when he returns.
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