Ex-Marco cop will drop Baker Act lawsuit in exchange for city not seeking attorneys' fees
The Marco Island City Council has reached an agreement with the ex-cop suing the city and members of its police force for allegedly illegally Baker Acting him that will result in dismissal of the claim.
City Attorney Alan Gabriel presented the offer from former police officer Kevin Hennings, who along with his wife offered to dismiss the suit in exchange for the city not seeking legal costs expended to fight the suit.
"We've gotten to a point where the plaintiff has voluntarily offered to dismiss the claim if the city would agree not to pursue attorneys fees and costs against them," Gabriel said.
Gabriel said in talking with City Manager David Harden and the city's insurance adjusters, it was their recommendation to accept the offer.
The Hennings filed suit last year over a 2013 incident that resulted in Kevin Hennings being forcibly restrained and transported to a mental health facility in Fort Myers.
The Baker Act allows for the involuntary institutionalization and evaluation of someone that may have a mental illness and present harm to him or herself and others.
Hennings was released shortly thereafter and referred to the department's actions as the latest attempt to force his resignation.
Hennings, who faced several internal affairs investigations over his career, also alleged that the department used demotion and threats of termination and criminal charges to facilitate his ouster.
Although the complaint noted a number of internal affairs investigations against Hennings that were not sustained, it did not acknowledge the violations that were either sustained or had passed the six-month window established by state law to complete an investigation and administer punishment.
The civil case took a major turn last month after both of the Hennings' attorneys withdrew from the case.
Attorneys Robert Bates and Peter Huy cited two rules regulating professional conduct for the Florida Bar in court documents, including one in which “representation will result in the violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or law” or the attorney reasonably believes the client has or is taking fraudulent or criminal action using his or her services.
Hennings career with the Marco Island Police Department ended in September after he was terminated for allegedly having sex on duty.
A 5-month internal affairs investigation into Hennings found the allegations credible and concluded with the department determining he had violated four different police policies based on his actions.
Hennings denied the claims and has begun the arbitration process in an attempt to get his job back.