Former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong files wrongful termination lawsuit against city, mayor

ByRyan Curry KGO logo
Thursday, February 8, 2024
Ex-Oakland police chief files lawsuit against mayor, city
Former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the city and Mayor Sheng Thao.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong is suing the city of Oakland and Mayor Sheng Thao over his firing last year.

RELATED: Oakland mayor says she won't rehire LeRonne Armstrong as OPD chief

The suit claims Thao illegally terminated Armstrong in retaliation after he criticized the federal monitor overseeing the Oakland Police Department.

"Chief Armstrong was illegally terminated," said Billie Wenter, his lawyer. "In particular he was retaliated against."

The lawsuit also claims the action violated the law and Armstrong's First Amendment rights.

Thao fired Armstrong a year ago this month, claiming he mishandled misconduct charges against a police officer.

MORE: Ex-Oakland PD chief explains what led up to his firing after audit disputes prior accusations

Former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong explains what led up to his wrongful termination and why he was so surprised by it.

An independent auditor cleared Armstrong of any wrongdoing in September.

Thao refused comments when we spoke with her moments ago, referring us to the City Attorney's Office.

ABC7 News has reached out to the City Attorney's Office and they provided this statement:

"Former Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong filed a government claim on July 17, 2023, challenging this termination. This claim is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit against the city. The City denied the claim on August 29, 2023, triggering a deadline for him to file a lawsuit. We have not yet been served with the complaint."

A lot of the lawsuit is focused on the federal oversight monitor, Robert Warshaw. Armstrong's attorney's claim Warshaw is only looking to make more money from the city.

The complaint says the monitor is incentivized to find "systemic problems and leadership failures because the monitor personally benefits by requiring further supervision under the monitor's well-compensated gaze."

"The other goal and among others are to continue to reveal and shed some light on the improper purpose behind the monitor continuing to assert these false criticisms against the Oakland police department," Wenter said

The lawsuit also claims Mayor Thao was pressured by Warshaw to fire Armstrong. It says Thao held a meeting with city staff after her press conference last year announcing Armstrong's dismissal and said the monitor was "making her do this."

Armstrong's lawyers are also fighting for him to be reinstated as chief. He wants to return to old job.

"He loved Oakland," Wenter said. "He grew up in Oakland. He cared about the community. He served his role proudly and he still wants to do that."

See the full complaint here.

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