Vallejo City Council approves $900k settlement in Vallejo Police Department’s Badge Bending Whistleblower Case

OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Vallejo, CA City Council met behind closed doors Tuesday night, September 12, 2023, and approved a $900,000 pretrial settlement in the case of Police Captain John Whitney who had been terminated after blowing the whistle on the badge bending rituals of some Vallejo Police Department Officers.

In 2019, Vallejo Police Captain John Whitney learned that an officer had bent his badge to commemorate the times he had fired his weapons at civilians. Given this wasn’t the first time Whitney had learned of such a practice, he told the Chief they needed a department wide investigation. He wanted officers to be held accountable if they were found to be glorifying police shootings. When the Chief refused, Captain Whitney reported badge bending to the mayor and the City Manager. Within weeks he was placed on administrative leave for leaking confidential information and was later fired from Vallejo, allegedly for deleting data from his cell phone. In a letter of support, the mayor later said he believed Whitney was fired for “airing Vallejo’s dirty laundry”. Whitney brought claims against the City of Vallejo, CA for whistleblower retaliation. This week, Vallejo agreed to settle his case for $900,000.00 just a month before the civil trial was about to begin. 

Lead attorney, Jayme Walker, a Partner with the law firm Gwilliam Ivary Chiosso Cavalli & Brewer, who represented Mr. Whitney, stated, “John Whitney crossed the thin blue line to hold police officers accountable for excessive force and the practice of badge bending which glorified police shootings. Instead of commending him as a hero, the City of Vallejo terminated him. Now he has finally been vindicated and this settlement will hopefully send a positive message to all police officers who have the courage to stand up and do the right thing.” 

When hearing of the settlement, Captain Whitney said, The city of Vallejo and some officers in the department tried to silence me by ruining my career. I took an oath to uphold ethics and public trust and I meant it. What the City did damaged me, my family, and the community. This settlement vindicates me, and I hope the city will now do what it takes to repair the damage Badge bending did to the community.”

SOURCE The Law Firm of Gwilliam Ivary Chiosso Cavalli & Brewer