A 15-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department is suing the city for kicking him off the force upon learning he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder caused by witnessing several officer-involved shootings.
The lawsuit, filed by Shannon Hart in San Diego Superior Court, claims that since his transfer to the Critical Management Unit in 2004, Hart was witness to a number of traumatic incidents involving fellow officers. Among those incidents: Hart investigated the October 2010 killing of police officer Christopher Wilson in San Diego's Skyline neighborhood by fugitive Holim Lee; he surveyed the crime scene where officer Jeremy Henwood was shot and killed while driving his police cruiser in City Heights; and Hart was one of the first officers to respond to the shooting of officer Tim Bell in a canyon and helped pull him to safety.
The post traumatic stress disorder caused by those events, says Hart's lawsuit, resulted in sleepless nights, nightmares, loss of appetite, anxiety, short-term memory loss, and other ailments. Despite notifying the city that he was receiving treatment for the disorder, one day in November 2014 his superior, Sgt. Joseph Krawczyk, arrived at Hart's home to notify him that he could no longer perform his job and was being transferred to the Telephone Operations Center.
Krawczyk's visit worsened his psychological issues, says Hart.
"In fact, on or about October 5, 2015, [the] city received a report from a clinical psychologist indicating that that Hart was suffering from [post traumatic stress disorder] and the policy violations alleged against him may be viewed in the context of [the condition] that Hart was suffering," reads the lawsuit. "The psychological report also noted that the diagnosis of [post traumatic stress disorder] explains why a long-term exemplary employee would accumulate policy violations in such a short time.
"Defendant, knowing that Hart was diagnosed with [post traumatic stress disorder] and being provided with a psychological evaluation stating that the symptoms of Hart’s [post traumatic stress disorder] are related to the policy violations, did not attempt to provide any work accommodations, or even attempt a good faith interactive process."
Months later, the relationship between Hart and the force worsened.
In late 2015 Hart asked his superiors about a remote DirecTV package, which included NFL Package and other sports add-ons, that police chief Shelley Zimmerman purchased with federal grant money for mayor Kevin Faulconer's city vehicle in 2014. Hart didn't believe the expenditure qualified under the terms of the grant. On November 2, 2015, after raising his concerns, Hart was terminated from the force.
The following month he filed a claim with the city for wrongful termination, claiming that he was fired as a result of his questioning the mayor’s DirecTV package in addition to the discrimination due to his post traumatic stress disorder. The claim was denied, leading to the lawsuit filed in Superior Court.
Hart and his attorneys filed a claim with the city asking for over $10,000 in damages. That claim, typically a precursor to a lawsuit, was rejected this month.