In the second big verdict returned against Louisville Metro Police this week, a jury Friday awarded $1.2 million in damages to a police lieutenant who said the department failed to appropriately investigate and discipline another lieutenant who sent her a picture of a man holding his genitals.
On Wednesday, another jury awarded a former University of Louisville student $2.25 million for her wrongful arrest by a rogue detective 12 years ago.
Police Chief Steve Conrad left the courthouse looking glum and ashen-faced Friday after the jury’s verdict for Lt. Jill Hume, who alleged the department failed to protect her from Lt. Robert Shadle after he texted her a sexually explicit photos in 2016.
Hume declined to comment to reporters after the verdict, indicating she feared possible sanctions for violating the department’s media policy, which bars officers from talking to the press without permission.
But her attorney, Thomas Clay, said that “she is beyond overjoyed.”
Jessie Halladay, the department’s spokeswoman, said, “We’re not saying anything.” Josh Abner, spokesman for the county attorney’s office, which defended the suit, said it is reviewing the case for “possible next steps.”
The verdict came after a four-day trial before Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Ann Bailey Smith and only about two hours of deliberation by a jury.
Former police Maj. Kim Kraeszig, now chief of Bardstown Police, testified that sending the picture could have constituted a criminal act but that a criminal investigation was never opened.
Shadle was suspended without pay for 20 days for conduct unbecoming an officer for sending the texts. But in a suit filed in December 2016, Hume alleged the department and commanding officers knew or should have known of his misconduct and failed to take prompt and appropriate action.
Hume testified that what really bothered her was that Shadle was allowed to attend the same meetings as her and work some of the same details even after two no-contact orders were issued.
The department contended the no-contact order did not mean he could not work in the same area and that it was only intended to prohibit Shadle from talking to Hume or texting her.
The suit named only metro government and the department as defendants. It alleged she was harassed because of her sex in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.
Clay, who tried the case with Sara Collins, told reporters the verdict for Hume marked the third time in five years he had won money for the department’s mistreatment off officers – and that the department’s misconduct had cost it nearly $2 million.
“If that doesn’t tell you there are problems in the department, nothing will,” Clay said.
First, in 2014, he forced the department to pay a $450,000 settlement to former police Detective Barron Morgan, who claimed he’d been demoted to patrol officer on the graveyard shift for trying to help an imprisoned woman prove her innocence on a homicide charge. She was eventually exonerated.
Then, in 2018, Clay won a $300,000 verdict against the city for Raymond “Jimmy” Harper, who alleged he was demoted from major over the 2nd Division to lieutenant for telling Mayor Greg Fischer about problems within the department.
In Hume’s case, she alleged Shadle sent her messages on Feb. 10 and 11, 2016, saying simply “Hey you” before sending her the text with the photo attached.
According to the suit, she responded by text, “Hey jackass you are texting the wrong f—— person.”
She alleged that when she reported the text, her supervisor, Major Kelly Jones, asked if she’d ever had a sexual relationship with Shadle, which she had not.
She said he also advised her that if a formal complaint was filed, she and Shadle could be named by The Courier Journal and told her, “Don’t take this wrong, but there are plenty of fish out there, and I just don’t think this was meant for you.”
In Wednesday’s verdict, which included $250,000 in punitive damages, a jury compensated Tiffany Washington, a former U of L student with no criminal record who spent five days in jail after she was arrested in 2007 by Detective Crystal Marlowe and charged with burglary.
Washington was freed after she showed she was with her family in Henderson over Christmas break at the time of the crime.
She was one of a dozen people arrested by Marlowe over a two-year period whom The Courier Journal found in a 2010 investigation could not have committed the crimes they were charged with because they were in jail at the time or had other alibis.
Marlowe was fired in 2011 by then-Chief Robert White.
Washington’s suit was the first of five scheduled for trial.