Disabled army vet, improperly thrown out of FBI training, will join June academy class

The disabled U.S. Army veteran who successfully sued the FBI over his removal from the agency’s special agent training program will re-enter the academy on June 1, according to a court filing and the veteran’s attorney.

Justin Slaby, 31, will resume his training with a regularly scheduled class of new agent trainees, which the FBI was able to put together because of the budget passed by Congress earlier this year, according to the filing and Slaby’s attorney. That Slaby would resume training to become a special agent is no surprise; a federal judge in Alexandria had last year ordered that much. But his admission to the regular class beginning June 1 seems to finally bring a practical conclusion to his long legal struggle against the federal law enforcement agency that jurors determined unjustly threw him out.

“It’s a great development,” said John Griffin, one of Slaby’s lawyers.

Slaby — whose left hand was blown off by a defective “flash-bang” grenade in 2004 — was first admitted to the FBI’s training academy in 2011, after he passed the agency’s basic fitness for duty tests. But once there, instructors removed him, concluding that he could not safely fire a gun with his prosthetic hand.

Slaby sued over the removal, and last year, won a verdict that deemed him qualified to train as a special agent and gave him $75,000 in damages. The FBI then said it would be willing to re-train him but could not do so immediately because federal sequestration prevented the agency from bringing in new agent trainees.

A federal judge ultimately ordered the FBI to train Slaby, who works for the agency in a non-special agent capacity, by himself if it could not bring together a class by June 1. According to Griffin and a filing Friday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, such a class is being put together, and Slaby will be a part of it.

“This is a win-win,” Griffin said.

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Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.
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