His name is Liu Fang. He's from China, and was visiting the Lehigh Valley over the Thanksgiving Holiday. Deeply religious, he wanted to spread the Word. But the place he chose to talk about Jesus, Jelly Beans Southside Jam in Allentown, was less than ideal. Patrons complained about Fang's born-again fervor, and bouncer Grady Cunningham went to work. Fang was beaten to within an inch of his life and left in a puddle of blood. Praise be Jee-bus! Fang went on to get a $1 million judgment (2007-C-2459) he's never been able to collect. Cunningham went on to become a Fountain Hill police officer who was recently exposed on videotape, roughing up a handcuffed and shoeless petty criminal. Though he was fired by an unanimous Borough Council, a recent arbitrator's award says there's nothing to see here. Move along. Give this man his job back. Doesn't the FOP rock?
Despite a major civil judgment for brutality, Cunningham also works part-time in other police departments. Maybe they like the tattoo emblazoned on his forearm, saying "Fighting Solves Everything." Just the thing you'd want to see in a man sworn to serve and to protect.
|Grady Cunningham thanks FOP for their support|
In Northampton County, magistrate dockets reveal that, in 1993, harassment and terroristic threats against Cunningham were sent on to County Court. Also in 1993, bad checks, forgery, receiving stolen property and unlawful use of computer charges were sent to court. But what happened on the County level is unknown. Poof! No record. It could be that he was admitted into ARD, a special program for first offenders, after which the charges are dismissed and sometimes expunged.
He still owes Northampton County $354.50 in costs for an old (1991) disorderly conduct conviction. The matter was referred to a collection agency, but he blew them off.
In Lehigh County Cunningham was charged with terroristic threats, harassment, disorderly conduct in 2003. Charges were downgraded to two counts of harassment and he was placed on six months probation and fined $600. He was later brought back to court on contempt charges for ignoring his costs, like he did in Northampton County, and he coughed up the dough rather than go to jail.
Lehigh County has always been better than Northampton County that way.
In addition to the criminal charges against a cop who believes that fighting solves everything, he has a history of domestic violence. In Lehigh County, Protection From Abuse Act (PFA) contempt charges were filed against Cunningham in 2003. That same year, a PFA was sought and obtained against him in Northampton County. Those PFA charges were eventually dropped by his battered girlfriend after a custody order was entered, assuring that his visitation with his son would be supervised.
Civil records also reveal that someone named "Grady Cunningham" is a bit of a deadbeat. I can't be sure this is the same Grady Cunningham who was born in 1971 and worked as a police officer in Fountain Hill, but let me list the details with the caveat that this could be someone else:
1995: $1,567.50 judgment (back rent)
1996: $4,910.22 judgment (back rent)
2004: $1700 judgment by People First FCU
2008: $3,561.20 judgment (back rent)
2008: $1,856.20 judgment (back rent)
2013: In February, a $11,997.60 judgment (back rent)
Grady Cunningham should not be working as a police officer. Anywhere.
Guys like me give lawyers a bad name. I lost my license to practice in 1985 for unethical conduct as a result of my drinking, but believe me, that was only the tip of the iceberg. There was more. So much more. My dad spent a lifetime building up a good name, and I tore it down in seconds. I probably knocked a few years off the lives of both my parents. But I am the exception, not the rule. Most lawyers are, contrary to popular opinion, honest to a fault. They are members of a profession. Just as I was a bad lawyer who had to be taken down a notch, Grady Cunningham is a bad cop who deserves no rewards or breaks for roughing up a criminal suspect.
Like lawyers, most police officers are dedicated professionals whose ultimate goal is to help people. Take Fountain Hill Police Chief Ed Bachert, for example. Before being named Chief in 2011, he devoted a career to Allentown. With a Master's Degree in Public Administration, he basically ran day-to-day operations in during Mayor Afflerbach's Administration as an Allentown police officer. His was a voice of reason. He's a good cop, as are most police officers.
"We have to police ourselves and do the right thing if we want the trust of our community," Bachert told The Morning Call when Cunningham was terminated.
All too often, that wisdom is ignored by public sector union arbitrators. I expect to have the arbitration ruling soon, and when I get it, I'll share it with you.