BOYNTON BEACH — A former Boynton Beach police officer has received a $200,000 settlement after he sued the city claiming his firing was in retaliation for his criticism of supervisors and whistleblower complaints.
It marks the second time recently that Boynton Beach has agreed to a six-figure payout to a former employee accusing the city of misbehavior.
Latosha Clemens, a former deputy chief and the city's first Black female fire fighter, received $100,000 this month after agreeing to dismiss a lawsuit and federal discrimination complaint against Boynton Beach. Clemons sued after a mural meant to celebrate her accomplishments and those of other firefighters depicted her as white.
Ron Ryan, who worked 15 years for the city, was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation in 2015 that found him unfit for duty. The tests came following a series of emails and social media rants in which Ryan denounced his supervisors for failing to act while he was involved in a car chase.
The lawsuit was filed more than five years ago in circuit court and Ryan said its conclusion "gives me some hope to rebuild from all that was destroyed after the well executed hatchet job" he said was undertaken by his bosses, including former police chief Jeffrey Katz, and supported by City Manager Lori LaVerriere.
LaVerriere did not respond to a request for comment and Katz could not be reached.
Commissioners were not required to authorize payout
News of the settlement appeared to catch members of the city commission by surprise. Commissioners met with city attorneys on Sept. 21 in a closed-door session to discuss the case, but Mayor Steven Grant said in an email that the commission did not authorize a payout to Ryan — as it did in the Clemons case and "as required by law."
City Attorney James Cherof said there was no such requirement in the Ryan payment and that they mayor and commissioners "may have been confused as to the process due to the recent settlement of the Clemons lawsuit."
The difference, Cherof wrote in an email, was in who paid the settlements.
With Clemons, the city covered the $100,000 that was paid. In Ryan's case, Cherof said the commission's consent was unnecessary because the city's insurance carrier paid the $200,000 after the former police officer was "made an offer within a predetermined range of authority."
"Both cases were properly settled, albeit differently, in accordance with legal requirements," Cherof said.
Ryan worked for the department from 1992 to 2002 and returned in 2010. He was best known for dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” in March 2014 after he was called to a house party. A video of Ryan’s dance was posted to the police department’s Facebook and YouTube pages and went viral.
He was also the city's first police officer to live Tweet a road patrol shift, picking up 389 followers.
Ryan received a far different reaction after he wrote a string of scathing emails and social media posts on October 21, 2015. He railed about a lack of support from superiors during an early-morning car chase, saying one supervisor was a “cowardly Monday morning quarterbacking nit picking nothing better to do Kool-Aid drinking captain.”
Ryan's career in the department was mixed. He received numerous commendations, but was also reprimanded in more than a dozen cases, records show. He faced federal charges in 2017 for
beating up a fleeing motorist, but was acquitted.
His termination and its public nature effectively ended any chance of Ryan remaining a police officer, said his attorney Sid Garcia.
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"His reputation in law enforcement was compromised with the firing," Garcia said. "But he's moved on with his life. He's accepted that when something gets broken, it can never be put back together fully."
Ryan said by email that he recently passed the certified process server exam and is opening his own business. He's also published two children's books — "Pretty Purple Piggy Bank" and "Captain Rosie and the Coasties" — with plans for more.
"Time to move on," he wrote.
Source : https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/local/boynton/2021/10/27/boynton-police-officer-who-said-he-wrongly-fired-settles-200-000/8541853002/1153