Last summer, an appeals court judge ruled that Irma D. Reed had been unfairly fired from her job as a city police officer. The judge ordered the city to rehire Ms. Reed and to compensate her with back pay.
About four months ago, the city paid Ms. Reed $50,150 in lost wages stemming from the 1989 firing. But somebody failed to notify the city's Board of Estimates, the body that controls all money going out and coming in to city coffers. The board unanimously approved the payment yesterday -- apparently unaware that Ms. Reed had already been compensated.
After the meeting, City Council President Mary Pat Clarke, who is president of the board, expressed surprise about the mix-up.
"We should have approved it before it was released," said Ms. Clarke.
Ms. Clarke later said she had called the Police Department and asked for an investigation to determine how the money had been released without the board's approval.
Officer Reed was reinstated to her job last September. She was a 10-year veteran on the force when she was fired in 1989 after police came to her door one morning to arrest a man who had violated his parole for armed robbery.
Police found the man asleep with a .25-caliber automatic handgun on a bureau nearby. They also found two marijuana butts in an ashtray.
A police trial board determined that Officer Reed had failed to warn arresting officers that the man was armed.
But during the trial board hearing, there was no testimony indicating whether Officer Reed had actually failed to warn the arresting officers about the gun.
Court of Appeals Judge Robert L. Karwacki ruled that the Police Department had violated the state's Law Enforcement Officer's Bill of Rights by failing to inform Officer Reed that her alleged "failure to warn" the officers would be at issue in her case.
"The court found that [the Police Department's] actions were illegal and unconstitutional, so it follows that she should get her job back with back pay," said her lawyer, Michael Marshall.
Officer Reed works for the Police Department's youth section. She declined to comment yesterday.