On October 31, 2022, the family of the late Fremont Police Capt. decided to pursue legal action against the City of Fremont for emotional distress leading to the captain’s death in San Joaquin County. Let’s explore the details of the lawsuit with Ehline Law and our personal injury attorneys.
On February 21, 2022, Fremont’s Police Captain, Freddie Bobbitt, died following a long battle with the city and its officials for discrimination and retaliation. The Bobbitt family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city as the family believes emotional distress had a role in the purported wrongful death of Fred Bobbitt.
In 2019, alleged retaliation began when Bobbitt spoke against the City Manager, Mark Danaj, in a city council meeting. The officials stated that Bobbitt was derailing the city officials’ decision to negotiate over patrol division vacancies.
According to the lawsuit filed in Alameda County superior court, Police Chief Kimberly Petersen asked Bobbitt to retire early in 2020. The following month, the city attorney served the patrol division leader with a separation agreement.
After Bobbitt rejected the separation agreement given to him, the Police Chief removed Bobbitt as a patrol division leader and placed him in an administrative role with a one-year performance improvement plan.
During this time, Peterson was stepping down from his role as Police Chief, but since Bobbitt was now in an administrative post, he could no longer be eligible for that role.
The retaliation by the city officials against Bobbitt kept going on, prompting him to file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
When Bobbitt submitted a complaint in 2021, Danaj, who was stepping down, immediately promoted a less experienced captain, Sean Washington, to the position of Police Chief.
The lawsuit stated that once Washington, someone Bobbitt mentored, became the Police Chief, he continued with the performance improvement plan and agreed that Bobbitt should remain in the administrative position.
In May 2021, Bobbitt brought another complaint with the police union alleging retaliation and showing their support for Bobbitt.
In October 2021, the arbitrator looked into the complaint and stated that there was clear evidence of city officials violating the city’s anti-retaliation policy. The arbitrator’s decision involved the city removing the improvement plan and placing Bobbitt in his previously instated position as the patrol division leader.
However, according to the lawsuit, the city officials did not adhere to the arbitrator’s decision, refused mediation, and decided to search for a Deputy Police Chief.
Bobbitt continued working in the administrative post until his death in February 2022.
Bobbitt’s family, in the lawsuit, alleged that the retaliation continued against Fred Bobbitt, a principle-oriented man who served Fremont until his last breath. According to the wrongful death suit, Bobbitt conversed with Sean Washington on February 20 before he took his life the next day.
The family alleged that the inaction by city officials was a major factor in causing Bobbitt emotional distress, for which he sought mental health treatment. According to the complaint, the city officials knew Bobbitt was receiving help from mental health professionals.
Tragically, suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with more than 45,979 suicides committed in 2020.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of people committing or thinking about suicide is much more. In 2020, 3.2 million Americans planned suicide, and 1.2 million attempted but failed.
In most cases, individuals who commit suicide feel like they cannot cope with the life situation they’re experiencing and believe that suicide is the only way out. Although attempted suicide is more common in women than men, men are victims of suicide more than women since they use more lethal means, such as firearms.
Some of the risk factors that can increase the likelihood of suicide include:
If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, contact 911 or 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Retaliation and discrimination at the workplace or among friends can cause isolation, hopelessness, and depression, leading to suicidal thoughts.
If you lost a loved one due to emotional distress caused by retaliation or discrimination, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation, as you may be eligible for compensation.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.