Jury denies officer damages

A Snohomish County jury on Thursday declined to award damages to an Edmonds police officer over the way the police department and city handled an ongoing domestic dispute between her and a male officer.

Police detective Ronda Rohde charged in a civil lawsuit that the department did not properly supervise her one-time partner, but the jury rejected that allegation.

She also claimed the city was negligent in supervising others in the department in connection with the domestic dispute. On that charge, the jury agreed, saying the city’s negligence did harm Rohde.

However, by a vote of 11-1, jurors decided that Rohde was entitled to no money.

The city could have wound up paying more than $1 million in damages asked by Rohde’s Seattle attorney, Mary Ruth Mann.

A jury of eight women and four men deliberated two days before deciding the case. Jurors reached 11-1 decisions in all but one of five questions they answered. The only unanimous answer was that the city was not negligent in keeping the male officer on the force.

In civil trials, at least 10 jurors must agree on each issue.

After the trial, jurors told lawyers they had a hard time coming to their decisions.

Mann said she may appeal the verdict, and the fact that several other allegations were removed from consideration.

Judges previously had thrown out other allegations, including charges of city retaliation against Rohde and gender discrimination.

Mark Bucklin, a Seattle attorney who represented the city, said he was pleased with the verdict.

However, attorneys on both sides remained confused as to the apparent inconsistency of some of the jurors’ findings.

Bucklin said the city offered a settlement to Rohde before the trial, but she declined. He would not say how much was offered.

Mann said Rohde refused because the city insisted she step down as a police officer.

The jury got the case Tuesday after a trial of more than three weeks before Superior Court Judge Ronald Castleberry.

Rohde charged that the department negligently kept the ex-boyfriend on duty and failed to act when she reported domestic abuse.

The jury examined three incidents in which Rohde alleged domestic abuse, and how the department responded.

The Herald is withholding the male officer’s name because he was not named as a defendant and has not been charged with a crime. Rohde and the male officer have a child together.

During closing arguments, Mann told jurors the case “is about how the city responded, what the city could have prevented. … The city doesn’t think it is responsible at all, and that’s why we’re here today.”

Bucklin told jurors that Rohde had the wrong slant on the case.

“This is a case of love gone bad and all that followed,” Bucklin said, adding that Rohde and the male officer broke up and reunited repeatedly over a several-year period in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“This was not an out-of-control cop,” as Rohde and Mann suggested, Bucklin told jurors.

Bucklin said Rohde never really reported domestic abuse, so there was no reason for the department to act.

Mann, on the other hand, accused the police chief at the time, Robin Hickok, of minimizing Rohde’s abuse reports. That violated department policy and law, she said.

Talk to us

More in Local News

An example of the Malicious Women Co. products (left) vs. the Malicious Mermaid's products (right). (U.S. District Court in Florida)
Judge: Cheeky candle copycat must pay Snohomish company over $800K

The owner of the Malicious Women Co. doesn’t expect to receive any money from the Malicious Mermaid, a Florida-based copycat.

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

A fatal accident the afternoon of Dec. 18 near Clinton ended with one of the cars involved bursting into flames. The driver of the fully engulfed car was outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived at the scene. (Whidbey News-Times/Submitted photo)
Driver sentenced in 2021 crash that killed Everett couple

Danielle Cruz, formerly of Lynnwood, gets 17½ years in prison. She was impaired by drugs when she caused the crash that killed Sharon Gamble and Kenneth Weikle.

A person walks out of the Everett Clinic on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Everett Clinic changing name to parent company Optum in 2024

The parent company says the name change will not affect quality of care for patients in Snohomish County.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
Lynnwood settles for $1.7 million after 2021 suicide at city jail

Jail staff reportedly committed 16 safety check violations before they found Tirhas Tesfatsion, 47, unresponsive in her cell.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Separate road rage incident ends with fatal shooting in Lake Stevens

A man, 41, died at the scene in the 15300 block of 84th Street NE. No arrests have been made.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and law enforcement partners advise the public of of colorful fentanyl.  (Photo provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration)
After rainbow fentanyl pills found in Tulalip, police sound alarms

Investigators are concerned the pastel-colored pills may end up in the hands of children.

Nursing Administration Supervisor Susan Williams points at a list of current COVID patients at Providence Regional Medical Center on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Dozens of Providence patients in medical limbo for months, even years

About 100 people are stuck in Everett hospital beds without an urgent medical reason. New laws aim for a solution.

A view of a 6 parcel, 4.4 acre piece of land in Edmonds, south of Edmonds-Woodway High School on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Housing authority seeks more property in Edmonds

The Housing Authority of Snohomish County doesn’t have specific plans for land near 80th Avenue West, if its offer is accepted.

Most Read