Metro Council has approved a payment of $150,000 to a Metro Police officer in exchange for her resignation, after she criticized her department of discrimination and violating her freedom of speech.
Officer Monica Blake said the settlement brings her little comfort.
“I'm appreciative of the settlement. But it's not what I asked for. What I asked for was justice. And that could have been delivered for free,” Blake said.
Blake’s dispute with her department has been documented in a series of News4 I-Team investigations.
“I've gone from high-fiving fighting crime to dreading putting on the uniform each day,” Blake said.
Blake’s turmoil with her department began when she claimed she was raped and choked by her fellow officer, Julian Pirtle.
A News4 I-Team investigation revealed that Blake secretly recorded Pirtle after the assault, in which he can be heard referring to himself as “the Hulk.”
“It's like, why do you think they call me the Hulk?” Pirtle said in the recording.
"I don't know, but that doesn't give you the right to put your hands on me,” Blake responded.
“They don't call me Bruce Banner for no reason. It's not an excuse,” Pirtle said.
While Pirtle ultimately pleaded guilty to assault, the rape charge was dropped.
Although the district attorney’s office cited a lack of evidence on the rape charge, Blake said she was told by prosecutors that a high ranking official in her department described her as untruthful.
While Blake said the DA’s office would not confirm the identity of the official, she knew that her precinct commander, Marlene Pardue, was scheduled to testify for Pirtle.
Afterwards, Blake said she continued to clash with Pardue.
Blake began to criticize the department on social media as well as writing about her support for a police oversight board.
Blake said because of her criticisms, she was disciplined for violating the department’s social media guidelines.
Blake then sued, claiming her first amendment rights were being violating.
In the settlement resolution that called for the $150,000 payout, Metro attorneys estimated that the trial and investigative fees would go beyond $250,000.
The settlement resolution stated that while there are limits to a public employee’s right to speak, speech is generally protected when the employee speaks as a private citizens about matters of public concern.
Blake will resign in good standing on May 1, and said she will never work in law enforcement again.
“I would never want to become a police officer again. This has been a traumatizing experience,” Blake said.
A Metro Police spokesman also confirmed Pardue is retiring in May.
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