, May 23, 2022

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


  •   2 min reads
Vallejo City Council to get update on status of $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 $10 million lawsuit filed by the police union president during a special closed session on Tuesday.

The lawsuit from former Lt. Michael Nichelini alleges he was subjected to harassment, retaliation and intimidation by top-ranking Vallejo city officials, including Police Chief Shawny Williams. It hasn't progressed over the last six months as the last recorded action in the case included both sides agreeing to pick a neutral mediator, according to court records.  

Nichelini originally filed the lawsuit seeking $7.5 million in damages in early March 2021. He then amended his complaint weeks later after he was fired following several internal investigations. Nichelini still serves as president of the Vallejo Police Officers’ Association and is now seeking $10 million and his job back.

The lawsuit names former City Manager Greg Nyhoff, former interim City Manager Anne Cardwell, Williams, former Mayor Bob Sampayan, current Mayor Robert McConnell, along with current and former city councilmembers.

Nichelini alleges that the department waged a yearlong push to smear his name and ruin his career. He was ultimately 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.

“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 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.

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

Nichelini is the son of Robert Nichelini, a former Vallejo chief of police who served from 1995 to 2012 and now conducts internal investigations for the Solano County Sheriff’s Office. Michael Nichelini became union president in early 2020 when longtime VPOA President Det. Mat Mustard suddenly resigned from the top union position.

The Vallejo City Council is scheduled to meet during the special closed session at 4:30 p.m., April 12, inside the Vallejo City Hall Council Chambers, 555 Santa Clara St.

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