Gig Harbor police officer called 'a coward' by her co-workers

GIG HARBOR, Wash. -- A Gig Harbor police sergeant has been called a coward by her co-workers, but her attorney says it's nothing more than a smear campaign by a sexist agency.

Sgt. Sharon Cox swore an oath to serve and protect, but some of her fellow officers say she failed when it mattered most.

On August 11, Cox was on call near a Home Depot when dispatch ordered her to an active shooting at the Key Peninsula Market. She was the closest officer to the scene, but didn't start driving until 10 minutes after the call.

Gig Harbor police officers say Cox reacted too slowly when lives were at stake.

The Problem Solvers obtained a memorandum from the police guild that shows a unanimous vote of no confidence. They also call her response "cowardice" and a "dereliction of duty."

Heidi Michaelson's brother, David Long, died at that shooting. Still, she's not sure Cox could have changed the outcome.

"I don't know if it would have had an impact on my brother's shooting," she said.

Julie Kays is an attorney representing Cox. She said Gig Harbor police are making a big deal out of the incident because they're trying to oust Cox from her job.

"She was doing everything she could that day to respond," Kay said. "She takes her job as an officer seriously. She takes the accusation that she is 'a coward' very seriously."

Kays also said Cox was following protocols laid out by her lieutenant years before to make sure another officer covered the city while she went to the shooting.

Kays said the criticism her client is facing is nothing more than a smoke screen hiding a real effort by officers to push Cox out of the department.

Michaelson hopes officers live up to the oath they take, but she doesn't think a few extra minutes would have mattered.

"It doesn't change anything," she said. "The outcome, I believe, would have been the same whether she responded (or not), but in other circumstances it could change, it could change a life. It could save a life."

Cox was reprimanded for the incident following an internal affairs investigation. She's back on duty and has filed a legal claim against the Gig Harbor Police Department alleging harassment.