Judge denies city of Washougals appeal of officers reinstatement
A Clark County judge has denied the city of Washougal’s appeal of an arbitrator’s decision to reinstate a police officer convicted of assaulting a mentally ill man restrained in the back of his patrol car in July 2012.In a written opinion released Wednesday, Superior Court Judge John Nichols said the arbitrator abided by the law and the confines of the collective bargaining agreement between the city and its police force. As a result, Nichols doesn’t have the jurisdiction to consider whether the arbitrator’s decision to reinstate police Officer Robert E. Ritchie is “arbitrary and capricious,” as the city alleged.“We’re gratified,” said Jaime Goldberg, Ritchie’s attorney. “We obviously think it was a good decision. … I thought the judge followed what we think is Washington law.”Washougal City Administrator David Scott said the city is still evaluating their options for what to do next.“We disagreed with the arbitrator’s decision,” Scott said. “However, this decision is really out of our hands, so we have to evaluate our options.”One option would be to appeal the decision to the Washington Court of Appeals, Goldberg said.“The ball is in their court,” Goldberg said.Ritchie was terminated from his job in September 2012 for violating the Washougal Police Department’s use of force policy when he repeatedly punched Tyler Lampman, 26, after Lampman spat on him.