Union drops appeal over firing of Seattle detective in DUI case
The 2011 case attracted attention because the detective was driving a city vehicle filled with liquor, guns and ammunition at the time of the incident.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild has dropped its appeal in the firing of a detective charged with driving drunk in a city-owned vehicle filled with liquor, guns and ammunition.
Veteran officer John G. Fox, who was arrested in 2011 after a traffic accident in Mukilteo, entered into a deferred prosecution in 2012 in which the DUI charge — the second in his career — will be dismissed after five years if he meets court conditions.
Fox, 49, who joined the Police Department in 1988, was fired last year by then-Seattle Police Chief John Diaz, prompting an appeal by the police guild to an arbitration board.
The union dropped the appeal last month, after an arbitration hearing in which the outcome was pending. In an email, the guild’s president, Ron Smith, said the decision was made in the interest of the union and Fox.
The resolution comes at a time when the disciplinary-appeals process has drawn scrutiny, after the department lifted misconduct findings against seven officers whose cases were pending. One finding was reinstated after public outcry, but the others were not, leading to calls for a more timely and transparent appeals process.
In Fox’s case, he was driving a GMC Yukon belonging to the city of Seattle when it rear-ended another vehicle at Chennault Beach Road and Mukilteo Speedway about 1:20 p.m. on Oct. 27, 2011. The rear-ended vehicle hit a third vehicle, which in turn struck a fourth, Mukilteo police said.
Fox, then a narcotics detective, told a Mukilteo officer: “I’m undercover” when he was questioned at the scene. He refused to take a breathalyzer test to measure his blood-alcohol.
In a written statement, police reported that Fox’s speech was slow and slurred, and his eyes watery and bloodshot. He also walked with a stagger and lost his balance several times while being escorted to a holding facility, the report said.
A search of the Yukon turned up six empty 50-milliliter (1.66-ounce) bottles of peppermint schnapps and a nearly empty 375-milliliter bottle of vodka, the report said.
Police also recovered three handguns, several magazines of ammunition, handcuffs and other police equipment, according to the report.
While in custody, Fox was apologetic, telling an officer he was sorry for putting the officer in the position of having to arrest him.
The driver of the car struck by the Yukon sued the city of Seattle and Fox, alleging physical injuries.
Fox was dismissed from the case, and a judge later agreed with the city’s position that Fox was not acting in the course and scope of his duties at the time of the crash, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
In dismissing the suit, the judge also found it wasn’t foreseeable to the Seattle Police Department that Fox would misuse a city vehicle, making the city not be liable for his acts, the City Attorney’s Office said.
In the earlier case from 1994, Fox was found guilty of DUI after being arrested by the State Patrol in Issaquah, according to court records. He served one day in jail, paid a $560 fine and completed alcohol-information school.
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this story, which contains information from Times archives.
Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter @steve miletich