A former Berkeley police officer, who grabbed the attention of city officials last year with screenshots of racist and anti-homeless text messages purportedly sent between other BPD officers, has failed to overturn his own firing.
The texts resulted in a sergeant being put on leave, and the confirmation of Interim Chief Jen Louis as permanent chief being put on hold.
Former Officer Corey Shedoudy was fired in August 2021 after an investigation determined he had deliberately crashed his bike into a Toyota Camry while on duty and then lied about the circumstances of the crash. Investigators also accused Shedoudy of fraudulently claiming workers’ compensation after the crash, although the arbitrator did not definitively conclude that he had.
Shedoudy, who had joined the department in 2014 after two years working for the Modesto Police Department, appealed his firing. But independent arbitrator David A. Weinberg upheld the termination in an April 8 ruling report released by the city Thursday in response to a Berkeleyside Public Records Act request.
The crash took place Nov. 22, 2020, according to city records. Shedoudy had begun his shift more than two hours late and was riding alone.
Shedoudy reported he had conducted various investigative activities along Shattuck Avenue that afternoon. There was no body camera footage showing he had been doing what he said he was and, in fact, he had borrowed another officer’s camera, claiming his own had a dead battery, according to the report.
And surveillance footage from the area instead showed him several blocks away, near Bancroft Way and Ellsworth Street, apparently riding a stretch of Bancroft over and over again, according to the report.
At 4:53 p.m. Shedoudy was again riding westbound on Bancroft when he collided with the Camry.
Shedoudy activated his borrowed body camera after he struck the Camry, so the 30 seconds leading up that point were retroactively captured, Weinberg wrote.
That footage showed Shedoudy riding east on a sidewalk on Bancroft, then turning around to ride westbound in the bike lane. Fred B. Glass, who was driving the Camry, stopped at the intersection, and as Shedoudy began closing the roughly 111 feet between them, began nosing into the bike lane, according to the report.
With 86 feet separating them, Glass stopped the Camry “halfway into the bike lane,” the arbitrator wrote. Shedoudy slowed and, 55 feet away, stopped pedaling and began swerving side to side, finally striking the Camry’s hood at approximately 5 mph, Weinberg wrote.
Shedoudy “goes onto the front hood and slides off the hood face and hands down onto the ground,” he wrote.
Police Sgt. Darren Kacalek — whom Shedoudy would later accuse of maintaining arrest quotas in the bike unit — wrote a memo to then-Chief Andrew Greenwood, saying he believed Shedoudy had staged the crash, according to the report.
Based on Kacalek’s recommendation, Greenwood had then-Sgt. Rashawn Cummings begin an internal investigation into the crash. Among other things, Cummings determined that Shedoudy had appeared to brace himself before the collision, and that while “sudden and unexpected impacts often cause a rag doll effect,” Shedoudy had instead “appeared to methodically slide off the hood on his stomach before he lowered his body to the ground,” Weinberg wrote.
Cummings also found an apparent inconsistency in Shedoudy’s account of the crash. Shedoudy had said he was heading back towards department headquarters from a call for a “skirt peeper” at the Cream restaurant on Telegraph Avenue, according to the report. Except that call hadn’t come Nov. 22 — it had come into the department two days earlier.
In an April 9, 2021, notice recommending Shedoudy be fired, Louis, who had at the time been interim chief for less than a month following Greenwood’s retirement, wrote that Shedoudy had violated several department regulations by intentionally crashing his bike into the Camry and improperly seeking workers’ compensation and paid time off afterward, as well as misleading investigators, Weinberg wrote. Deputy City Manager David White terminated Shedoudy on Aug. 31, 2021.
Shedoudy appealed the firing, claiming that Kacalek’s investigation had been biased, that he had been improperly trained for bicycle duty and that the footage showing him in a different part of the city than he said he’d been did not necessarily prove he had intentionally staged the collision, according to the report.
Arbitration hearings ran from Sept. 6 to Oct. 18 of 2022. Weinberg ruled that, while Kacalek had made some additional erroneous conclusions, the determination that Shedoudy had intentionally crashed into the Camry and tried to deceive investigators was valid.
Ultimately, Weinberg said, there had been just cause to fire Shedoudy and denied Shedoudy’s grievance.
The Berkeley Scanner was the first to report on Weinberg’s findings, and was also the first to report the circumstances of Shedoudy’s termination.
Shedoudy leaked texts after final arbitration hearing
Months before Weinberg made his determination, and just 23 days after the final arbitration hearing, Shedoudy emailed the members of the City Council, asking that they delay confirming Louis’ confirmation as permanent chief, an item on the council’s Nov. 15 agenda.
Shedoudy claimed that, during the arbitration hearings, “evidence was uncovered that exposed the unethical and illegal practice of arrest quotas of downtown unhoused ordered by Sgt. Darren Kacalek.” He also sent several images of text messages, purportedly from Kacalek and other bike squad members, that included racist and anti-homeless remarks.
City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley said at the time that Louis had not known about the alleged behavior by the bike team. She initially said she thought the confirmation should go ahead but ended up pulling the item from the Nov. 15 agenda.
The city hired San Francisco-based law firm Swanson and McNamara to investigate Shedoudy’s allegations. That investigation is still open, a city spokesman confirmed Thursday.
Meanwhile the Police Accountability Board has been studying Shedoudy’s allegations separately.
Kacalek has been on leave since the allegations came to light, and lost his leadership of the Berkeley Police Association.
Weinberg’s determination “certainly raises suspicions into Corey Shedoudy’s motivations and timeliness of this matter,” the union’s new president, Sgt. Joe LeDoux, told Berkeleyside in a text message Thursday. “As far as I know he’s never raised issue to the amazing work our bike unit did while he was a part of that unit.”
But whatever else Shedoudy may have done, the severity of the behavior he alleged the bike team engaged in remains unchanged, according to the Police Accountability Board’s chairman, John Moore III.
“It is important to note that the arbitration findings do not diminish the seriousness of the allegations made by Shedoudy,” Moore wrote in an email forwarded by Hansel Aguilar, the city’s Director of Police Accountability.
The Police Accountability Board will include the arbitration findings in its review of Shedoudy’s allegations against Kacalek, Louis and the department, Moore said.
The board “encourages anyone with information related to these allegations to come forward and share their experiences,” Moore said. “The board believes that transparency and community input are critical to promoting trust and accountability in law enforcement, and it is committed to ensuring a thorough and impartial investigation of all allegations.”
Louis’s appointment is on the draft agenda for the council’s May 9 meeting.
LeDoux said he supported Weinberg’s findings against Shedoudy.
“What Corey Shedoudy did is unethical and tarnishes the amazing work done on a daily basis by the men and women of the Berkeley Police Department,” LeDoux said.
Shedoudy’s attorney in the arbitration matter did not respond to requests for comment.
Shedoudy and his wife have sued Glass, alleging Glass had been negligent.
Glass has denied any wrongdoing, responding that if Shedoudy “suffered or sustained any loss, damage or injury,” that “such loss, damage or injury was proximately caused and contributed to by (Shedoudy) failing to conduct themselves in a manner expected of a reasonably prudent person.”
It is unclear if Shedoudy intends to continue his civil suit. His attorney in that matter, Daniel Osier, declined to comment.
Featured photo: Kelly Sullivan