Seattle firefighter fails to win job back despite acquittal in assault case

SEATTLE (AP) — An arbitrator has upheld the firing of a Seattle firefighter who was charged but later acquitted in an alleged assault on homeless men in Seattle's Pioneer Square.

The Seattle Times reports that the arbitrator determined Robert Howell instigated the attack and then lied to police about it.

Howell, firefighter Scott Bullene and Bullene's girlfriend, Mia Jarvinen, were accused of attacking a group of homeless people in March 2014. The three were acquitted in a jury trial last December. Howell and Bullene were terminated from the fire department in August 2014.

In challenging his termination, Howell and his union said fire officials were influenced by "inflammatory" media coverage of the incident and didn't prove Howell committed the acts.

Arbitrator Howell Lankford wrote that he relied on 911 calls witnesses made. The newspaper obtained the ruling through a public-records request.

Howell and the Seattle Fire Department declined to comment Thursday, and the firefighters union did not return calls.