, May 23, 2022

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Vallejo City Council to get update on $10M VPOA lawsuit

  •   2 min reads
Vallejo City Council to get update on $10M VPOA lawsuit
Vallejo police union president Michael Nichelini sued the city and was later fired. Photo: Vallejo Police Department.

VALLEJO – The Vallejo City Council is scheduled to receive an update on the status of a multimillion lawsuit filed by the president of the Vallejo Police Officers’ Association against the city last year.

The council is scheduled to receive the update during a special closed session on Tuesday.

Michael Nichelini, president of the city’s police union and a former police lieutenant, was fired last March after he was the subject of several internal investigations.

Nichelini originally filed the lawsuit seeking $7.5 million in damages in early March 2021 alleging he was subjected to harassment, retaliation and intimidation by top-ranking Vallejo city officials, including Police Chief Shawny Williams.

Weeks later, Nichelini was fired and went on to amend the complaint seeking $10 million and his job back.

Nichelini’s lawyers said in the amendment complaint that his termination was the culmination of a yearlong push to smear Nichelini’s name and ruin his career. He was fired for writing a threatening email to a journalist and emailing union members a picture of an early 20th century badge engraved with a backwards swastika.

Nichelini is the son of Robert Nichelini, a former Vallejo chief of police who served from 1995 to 2012. Michael Nichelini became union president in early 2019 when longtime VPOA President Det. Mat Mustard suddenly resigned from the top union position.

Michael Nichelini was placed on leave in July 2020 for allegedly destroying evidence in the death of San Francisco resident Sean Monterrosa, who Det. Jarrett Tonn shot and killed  outside a Vallejo Walgreens during widespread looting in June 2020.  Nichelini was later cleared of any involvement in the windshield destruction and Lt. Fabio Rodriguez was disciplined.

Michael Nichelini was investigated after sending an email from the union’s email account to then-San Francisco Chronicle columnist Otis R. Taylor following his announcement that he was leaving to take a newspaper job in Atlanta in late 2020.

“Looks like 2021 will be a little bit better not having your biased and uniformed [sic] articles printed in the newspaper that only inflame the public…you have never looked for the truth in any of your writings…We will warn our Georgia colleagues of your impending arrival,” Nichelini wrote.

Nichelini’s attorney denied that it was a threat directed at Taylor.

The latest action in the case came at the end of October when the court granted a request from both sides to elect an experienced neutral mediator for the case.

Update on negotiations with fire union

The council will also receive an update on the status of negotiations between the city and  International Association of Firefighters, IAFF 1186, the employee union that represents the city’s firefighters.

The city’s negotiators include interim City Manager Mike Malone and interim Assistant City Manager Terrance Davis.

The special closed session meeting of the Vallejo City Council is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Tuesday and will be held via teleconference.

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