The decision from the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals is the latest in a four-year battle between the police union and the city over whether officer Shani Hannah should stay on the police force after the March 2012 incident.
An arbitrator in 2013 allowed the 11-year veteran to return to the department in September 2014 after she was fired following a criminal conviction stemming from her stabbing her boyfriend and trying to take her own life.
The city filed a motion in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to appeal the arbitrator’s decision, claiming the ruling wasn’t in compliance with the law.
The common pleas court found no grounds to reverse the arbitrator’s decision, which led the city to file this appeal.
Mayor Frank Jackson has repeatedly expressed frustration over the arbitration process, which he said often thwarts the city’s attempts to rid the department of bad officers.
Hannah, 40, was drunk when she grabbed her boyfriend by the throat, hit him in the face and stabbed his legs and hands, police said. She ran away from the scene and sent text messages to her boyfriend and children saying that she was going to kill herself.
Police found her parked on a dead-end street with a cord around her neck, officials said. An officer smashed a car window and stopped her from taking her own life. Hannah later admitted that the suicide attempt and text messages were efforts to keep her out of jail, police said.
Hannah was charged with felonious assault. She pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor assault charge.
A judge sentenced her to a suspended 6 months in jail, a year of probation, 25 hours of community service, drug testing and anger management. Then-Cleveland Safety Director Martin Flask wrote in a discharge letter that Hannah was fired because “the use of a weapon to inflict harm on another is inexcusable and unacceptable conduct by an officer.”
While deciding whether to uphold the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association’s call for Hannah’s reinstatement and back pay, the arbitrator questioned Hannah’s ability to make sound judgments.
He discussed one incident in which Hannah drove drunk with her children in the car and later screamed suicide threats.
The arbitrator also brought up Hannah’s decision to maintain a long-term relationship with her live-in boyfriend who was a registered sex offender with an extensive criminal history.