City pays $255k settlement to Blackwell one year after termination

City pays $255k settlement to Blackwell one year after termination

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The City of Cincinnati paid former police chief Jeffery Blackwell $255,000 in a confidential agreement nearly a year after his termination.

Documents obtained by the Cincinnati Enquirer show the settlement came in August, after city officials denied for months when the Enquirer pressed about a possible settlement following Blackwell's controversial firing in September 2015.

The settlement - hammered out by the city, allots Blackwell $170,850 for a year and a half's salary plus bonuses. The city paid an additional $84,150 to Freking Myers & Ruel, a Cincinnati-based law firm, to cover the former chief's attorney fees. The city also agreed to cover Blackwell's health insurance for one year for an unclear amount of money.

[Blackwell: I've done a good job for this city]

City Solicitor Paula Boggs Muething called the settlement a "favorable resolution," in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.

"Jeffrey Blackwell asserted several claims against the City. None of these claims were considered meritorious by my office.  Nevertheless, given the costs and inherent uncertainty of litigation, the City reached a favorable resolution of the issues and avoided a protracted lawsuit that would have burdened and distracted city officials from their mission of serving the people of Cincinnati," Boggs said.

City Councilmember Chris Seelbach said city council was never informed about the settlement. However, City Manager Harry Black said it's not standard protocol to advise council on legal settlements.

"While not part of our formal process, in light of the extraordinary nature of this particular settlement we should have thought to provide notice," Black said in an emailed statement. "Moving forward, if the Council were to request periodic updates on legal settlements we would view such a request as being more than reasonable and we will gladly oblige."

These settlement details come days after emails surfaced of an exchange between Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley about how to handle federal oversight on police.

In the emails released prompted by a suit against Chicago, Cranley talked about Blackwell's firing, saying he "inherited a bad chief who happened to be black."

In the exchange with Emanuel, Cranley recommended he "keep black cop organizations close." While the City of Cincinnati was blasted for Blackwell's firing, Cranley added the controversy fizzled out quickly.

Following his termination, Blackwell suffered a stroke in September. He has not responded directly to requests to respond to recently surfaced emails. The documents detailing the suit do not outline why the settlements comes months after Blackwell was booted.

"We fired him, immediate [sic] black radio and electes [sic] went nuts," Cranley wrote in a December 2015 email to the Chicago mayor. "In my opinion we survived this decision because of reservoir of respect for black cops by the community."

Blackwell is forbidden to discuss the settlement or publicly criticize the city. However, his family fired back at Cranley saying the firing was "racially motivated." In December 2015, City Manager Harry Black named Cincinnati police veteran Eliot Isaac, an African American, as the city's new police chief.

The city manager's entire statement on the settlement reads:

"For many years the City has appropriated funds as part of the annual budget process for legal judgements. The authority to settle any claims brought against the City rests with the Law department and ultimately the City Manager. This year 900k was committed for this purpose.

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