Former DuPont police chief files lawsuit against city

A former longtime DuPont police chief has sued the city, claiming officials there have not upheld the terms of his 2008 separation agreement.

Michael Pohl, who lives in Thurston County, filed the lawsuit Dec. 26 in Pierce County Superior Court and Dec. 29 in King County Superior Court. Attorney Nelson Fraley II said his client hopes to have the case heard in King County.

Pohl is suing six years after leaving the city in South Pierce County because he recently learned through public records requests that DuPont officials were not adhering to terms of the contract he signed when he resigned, Fraley said.

Pohl believes city officials have said he resigned in lieu of termination.

“That was not the case and was not in line with what the agreement was,” Fraley said.

Under the terms of separation, the city agreed to say Pohl resigned to “seek other professional opportunities,” according to the lawsuit.

Fraley said Pohl has applied to several law enforcement agencies across the state since leaving DuPont but has not been hired. He currently works at a casino in King County.

Part of Pohl’s separation agreement stipulates that only certain parts of his 22-year career with DuPont could be discussed. That included terms of his employment, job title and pay.

The lawsuit alleges city Human Resources manager Bernadette Moreland violated the contract as far back as Dec. 31, 2008. It also alleges violations by retired DuPont Police Chief Ron Goodpaster and current Chief Bob Sheehan.

DuPont City Administrator Ted Danek said he had not seen the lawsuit last week and said he could not comment on Pohl’s claims.

Pohl joined the DuPont Police Department in 1986 and served as chief starting that year until he left in 2008. His resignation came the same year he was temporarily demoted to sergeant for his involvement in an off-duty altercation in 2007 at a house in northern Thurston County.

No one was charged in the incident, which involved two Army Special Forces soldiers and sent Pohl to the hospital with a broken nose and other injuries.

He was put on six months probation by the city in January 2008 after an investigation determined he violated two department policies: Conduct unbecoming an officer and off-duty use of alcohol.

Four months later, Pohl was placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation into whether he again violated department policies. The details of that investigation were not made public.

Pohl resigned from the department four months later, in August 2008.

While he didn’t directly blame DuPont officials for Pohl’s inability to find another job, Fraley said he believes that could be part of the reason.

The suit asks Pohl be compensated for the damages he suffered, to be determined at the time of a trial, as well as attorney fees.