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Fired Anchorage police lieutenant suing the city says he did nothing wrong

  • Author: Devin Kelly
  • Updated: October 24, 2018
  • Published October 23, 2018

Former Anchorage police lieutenant Anthony Henry broke down in tears on the witness stand Tuesday in federal court while defending himself in his wrongful termination and retaliation lawsuit against the city of Anchorage.

Henry insisted he'd done nothing to deserve his 2015 firing over allegations he'd interfered with an investigation into drug-dealing and sexual misconduct in the Alaska National Guard.

"This has destroyed my life," Henry told the courtroom, his eyes filling with tears.

Lt. Anthony Henry at an APD press conference in November 2012. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

The lawsuit asserts Henry was the target of a years-long retaliation campaign for actions he took to protect a fellow officer with a medical condition. Henry also suggested Tuesday it was politically motivated by officials who were covering up misbehavior. He said his April 2015 firing was immediately leaked to the press.

At the time, he said, the National Guard scandal was unfolding, and the sitting governor was up for re-election.

"These people at the top, politicians, they weaponize this stuff," Henry said. He turned away from the microphone, put his face in his hands, and sobbed.

The city says Henry lost his job after a confidential report, released last week after the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU-TV sued to make it public, showed he had improperly revealed details of a drug investigation to the commander of the Alaska National Guard. Henry disputes the account in the report.

On the witness stand, Henry acknowledged that he had called then-Maj. Gen. Thomas Katkus, the commander, to tell him that a National Guard soldier was involved in illegal drug-dealing. But he said that type of disclosure was appropriate, and a standard practice.

Henry said he never forced subordinates to reveal the names of informants or other drug suspects in the Guard in meetings or phone calls. He also said there was no internal investigation that had identified other suspects.

His attorney, Meg Simonian, prodded him about the scope of investigations of the unit under Henry's command at the time. Henry said his unit, the Special Investigations Unit, handled drug cases that were fewer than two weeks in length. Longer-term cases went up to the department vice unit, he said.

"Would a widespread drug investigation into the Alaska National Guard be considered a short-term drug bust?" Simonian asked.

"No," Henry said.

A federal drug enforcement program, which Anchorage police assist, was investigating the National Guard recruiter who was accused of drug-dealing, Henry said. He said there was no evidence other National Guard members were involved in drug-dealing.

He also said that investigation didn't dry up, but was highly successful, leading to a major drug bust and the arrest of a member of a Mexican drug cartel.

Henry also said he never failed to act on actionable information he received related to allegations of sexual assault in the National Guard. He said if he'd heard Katkus discourage the reporting of sexual assault to police during the meetings, he would have done something about it.

On the witness stand Friday, Katkus presented a similar defense, saying he never discouraged the reporting of sexual assaults to law enforcement or made unauthorized disclosures related to drug investigations.

By September 2014, Henry said he'd heard rumors of allegations that he had ordered officers to stop doing an investigation into the National Guard as a favor to Katkus. He said he asked his commanding officer, Bill Miller, if that was true, and said Miller told him he was not the focus of those allegations. He said he later understood Miller did not intentionally mislead him.

But that was all he knew before he was interviewed by Rick Brown, a retired Pennsylvania state police officer. He said he was not allowed to see other documents beyond his own notes from 2010. He also said the city denied him access to an attorney during his interview with Brown.

"I had no secrets, I had nothing to hide," Henry said.

He said he did mix up different events involving one of his officers, Seth McMillan, in his interview with Brown.

David Parker, an attorney for the city, also said Henry had been empathetic in his interview he was not the one mixing up dates and events, and he blamed McMillan for the drug disclosures to Katkus.

"It wasn't Tony Henry, it was everyone else," Parker said.

Henry said he did make mistakes, but he had been relying on his notes from 2010, which he said he trusted more than the people interviewing him. He suggested the mistakes weren't intentional.

Brown's report served as the basis for Henry's firing and also the secret, two-week suspension of then-police chief Mark Mew.

In late March 2015, Henry said he was called into a conference room at Anchorage City Hall and ordered to turn over his gun and badge. He said Chief Mew offered him a chance to retire but he refused. He said he'd done nothing wrong.

Parker, the attorney for the city, said Henry had a chance to reclaim his job and avoid a lawsuit through the arbitration process. Henry said that if he had gone that route, he could not have recovered back pay. He also suggested arbitration would not have litigated all of his complaints.

Over the past three years, the city of Anchorage has spent more than $1.5 million to date fighting Henry's lawsuit, according to the current city attorney, Rebecca Windt-Pearson. Henry is also seeking more than $1.5 million in damages.

But Henry said his interest is mainly in restoring his reputation. He said he now works at the U.S. embassy in Iraq as a security detail for ambassadors and nonprofits working in war countries. He said he only spends 60 days a year at home in Anchorage, and is very restricted on where he could go, describing his embassy job as "like a jail."

"This is what I wanted, I'm going to get my name back," Henry said. "I didn't do anything wrong."

Attorneys for the city will continue cross-examining Henry on Wednesday morning.