SEATTLE — The Seattle firefighters’ union has dropped its support of former firefighter Scott Bullene in his effort to win his job back after being fired last year when he was charged with attacking homeless men.
Scott Bullene, 46, was fired in August after he was charged with malicious harassment and assault, but was acquitted by a Seattle Municipal Court jury. The Seattle Fire Fighters Union, Local 27, then filed a grievance appealing his termination.
But last month, as Bullene was driving to an employment-arbitration hearing, he was arrested by Bellevue police and subsequently charged with second-degree robbery, accused of assaulting a cabdriver and stealing his phone. Police say the Dec. 22 incident in downtown Bellevue was captured on video.
Bullene pleaded not guilty to the robbery charge and is scheduled for a case-setting hearing July 9, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
“I believe we will establish that the taxi driver was the aggressor,” Bullene’s attorney, David Allen, wrote in an email. “Scott was legally defending himself at the time and no robbery occurred.”
Kenny Stuart, the president of the Seattle Fire Fighters Union, could not be reached for comment, but he had said the union would wait to learn more about the robbery charge before deciding whether to continue its support of Bullene.
“We represent our members, but we represent the integrity of the process as well,” Stuart told The Seattle Times last month.
Confirmation that the union had dropped its grievance came from Paul Olsen, the director of the employment section in the Seattle City Attorney’s Office.
Olsen said while Bullene may still have legal options to pursue reinstatement, it is “most likely the end of the road for Mr. Bullene.”
Bullene and fellow firefighter Robert Howell were fired in August after they were accused of assaulting several homeless people March 15, 2014, at Seattle’s Occidental Park.
In charging documents, the City Attorney’s Office said Bullene, Howell and Bullene’s girlfriend, Mia Jarvinen, had left a Seattle Sounders game when they came across people sleeping on the Fallen Firefighters Memorial and became outraged. They were accused of kicking and hitting several individuals while allegedly yelling about being taxpayers who were sick of the drain “homeless” people placed on society.
Bullene, Howell and Jarvinen were all acquitted of the assault Dec. 10.
Twelve days later, according to Bellevue police, Bullene allegedly assaulted a cabdriver at the intersection of Northeast Fourth Street and 106th Avenue Northeast.
The cabdriver told police he had been cut off by the driver of an Audi Q5 and then, while they were both stopped at a red light, the driver of the Audi rolled down his window, pointed his middle finger at the cabdriver, cursed him, and spat in his direction, the charging documents say.
When the cabdriver got out of his car to take a picture of the Audi driver with his cellphone, the driver of the Audi allegedly got out his car and pushed the cabdriver “hard on his chest,” trying to force the man back into his cab, court documents say. The two men tussled until the driver of the Audi snatched the cabdriver’s phone and drove off, the charging document says.
A video of the incident, released by Bellevue police to The Times under a state public-disclosure request, shows two men tussling in the street before one man is seen pushing the second man into his vehicle before driving off.
Police and prosecutors say that after the encounter, the Audi driver left the phone at a nearby business, then tried to report its location anonymously.
Police tracked the vehicle’s license-plate number and found it registered to Bullene’s girlfriend, Jarvinen. Court documents say the victim and several witnesses identified Bullene as a potential suspect in the road-rage incident.
The city says the union is still providing legal representation to Howell, who is also trying to win back his job as a Seattle firefighter.
From The Seattle Times