Police chief settlement hits city pocketbook

Staff Writer
The Examiner

The settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit against the Independence police chief cost the city up to $25,000.

The woman who filed the civil suit against Brad Halsey in May 2018 reached a settlement for $100,000 with the city’s insurer late last year, avoiding a jury trial that otherwise would still be pending due to the pandemic.

The city’s deductible for legal fees with the Missouri Public Entity Risk Management Fund is $25,000.

The Examiner obtained the settlement, signed in November 2019, through a recent public records request.

Halsey disputed all claims and admitted no liability, and he chose to settle “to avoid the time, trouble and expense of protracted litigation,” as stated in the settlement.

The case had been scheduled to go to trial in April, and if there had not been a settlement the case would still be awaiting trial because of the pandemic, said the woman’s attorney, Mark Nasteff.

In the civil suit, the woman, a former crime analyst in the Police Department, alleged she “was subjected to repeated instances of sexually charged and assaultive behavior” in 2012 and into 2013. Several of the alleged incidents involved Halsey, a longtime department veteran who was promoted to chief in 2016, The woman said she resigned as a result of the last incident.

Halsey appealed regarding the statute of limitations for the claims, and the two sides argued before the Missouri Supreme Court last year over when the statute of limitations – two years for assault and battery and five years for emotional distress – could be applied. The court ruled the former claim was time-barred, the case went back to Jackson County Circuit Court, and the two sides eventually reached a settlement.

Soon after the woman filed suit in May 2018, the city of Independence announced it had hired an outside agency to conduct an investigation “due to the serious nature of the allegations.” The investigation was complete by the end of summer, and Halsey continued to serve as chief of police through the duration of the case. Being a personnel matter, the investigation findings were not made public.

City Manager Zach Walker said the city’s legal bill would not exceed the $25,000 insurance deductible. The city initially was named in the suit but later dismissed from it.