- Associated Press - Friday, April 22, 2016

CLEVELAND (AP) - A former police officer fired for stabbing her boyfriend should get her job back, an appeals court ruled.

The decision by the 8th District Court of Appeals in Cleveland said an arbitrator correctly decided that Shani Hannah should be rehired because male Cleveland police officers weren’t fired for more severe domestic violence incidents.

A city spokesman on Friday called the ruling disappointing.

The head of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, the city’s largest police union, and an attorney for the union didn’t return telephone calls. Hannah, 40, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Cleveland fired Hannah in 2013, citing unbecoming conduct. She was indicted in March 2012 on felony and misdemeanor assault charges after an alcohol-fueled incident where she cut her boyfriend with a knife, causing wounds requiring stitches. She pleaded guilty in July 2012 to first-degree misdemeanor assault and received a six-month suspended sentence and one year of probation.

A felony conviction would have automatically cost Hannah her job because she’d no longer be able to carry a gun.

Cleveland officials, including Mayor Frank Jackson, have long complained about the city being forced to rehire fired officers after arbitrators ruled they should get their jobs back. Police labor contracts in Cleveland allow for arbitrators to decide disputes when unions file grievances against the city over disciplinary measures, including terminations.

Hannah’s discharge letter from the city called her use of a weapon “inexcusable and unacceptable.” An investigation showed she cleaned the knife and hid it after cutting her boyfriend. She then drove away from the home while intoxicated, an internal criminal investigation found.

“Although you were found guilty of a lesser offense than that for which you were indicted, the evidence clearly revealed that you used a weapon in an attempt to inflict serious bodily harm on another,” the letter said.

The city noted that Hannah’s boyfriend was a registered sex offender who spent time in prison and had an “extensive criminal history.”

The Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association filed a grievance over the firing and said it was “disproportional to past disciplinary cases where officers have engaged in similar conduct and not been terminated.”

The arbitrator’s report issued in May 2014 included summaries of five instances where Cleveland male officers were charged with domestic violence, pleaded guilty to lesser charges and kept their jobs. Federal law states that anyone convicted of misdemeanor and felony domestic violence cannot own or use firearms.


An earlier version of this story was corrected to show the spelling of the last name of the fired officer is Hannah, not Hanni.

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