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Originally published Friday, January 7, 2011 at 8:53 PM

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Judge tosses rights suit of officer fired in 2007

A judge has thrown out a federal civil-rights lawsuit filed by a Seattle police officer whose firing over a 2007 domestic-violence incident was later overturned.

Seattle Times staff reporter

A judge has thrown out a federal civil-rights lawsuit filed by a Seattle police officer whose firing over a 2007 domestic-violence incident was later overturned.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman, in a 12-page ruling, said Officer Felton Miles' efforts to obtain damages and additional lost wages were barred because he chose to appeal his dismissal to the Public Safety Civil Service Commission rather than through the Seattle Police Officers' Guild appeals process. Pechman also found that former Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, who fired Miles when he was charged with felony domestic assault, has immunity from the lawsuit.

Miles, a 20-year department veteran, was fired by Kerlikowske in 2007 after he was arrested and charged with felony harassment of his ex-wife and her boyfriend at her Mill Creek home.

At the time, Kerlikowske said he was following a department policy to fire officers charged with a felony.

However, a Snohomish County jury deadlocked 10-2 to acquit Miles during a 2008 trial, and he eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge to avoid retrial.

The city's Public Safety Civil Service Commission later that year disagreed with the firing, saying that merely being charged with a crime shouldn't be sufficient reason for termination. Two of the three commissioners concluded the department had evidence to suspend Miles, but not to fire him.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges Kerlikowske was prejudiced against Miles and, as a result, the officer — who had an unblemished history with the department — was denied due process.

Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or mcarter@seattletimes.com

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