Firings of Minneapolis cops for racial slurs in Green Bay upheld - KMSP-TV

Firings of 2 Minneapolis cops for racial slurs in Green Bay upheld

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The Minneapolis Civil Service Commission has upheld the firings of two police officers over an altercation at a Green Bay, Wis., bar that was riddled with racial slurs while the two were off-duty nearly one year ago -- and it's a decision Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau is thankful for.

"I'm very pleased they reaffirmed my decision," she told Fox 9 News in a one-on-one interview.

Harteau iterated that the behavior seen in the dashcam video was embarrassing and shameful for her department, and she said it damaged her officers' relationship with communities of color in the city as well as the LGBT community. Now, she hopes that the city's agreement that she had just cause to terminate the officers' employment will send a message.

"This behavior and attitude toward other people is not acceptable," Harteau said.

Officers Brian Thole and Shawn Powell were placed on leave after video of the June 29 incident surfaced. The now-infamous off-duty trip to Green Bay for a good time went off the rails after a drunken altercation with a group of African American men outside a downtown bar. Dash cam video shows police breaking up the crowd, but Thole and Powell refused to leave.

"I don't need to chill out. These motherf-----s right here came down on us," one of the Minneapolis officers said. "I told them we were police officers. He charged me and I punched him, and I'll do it again."

According to the incident report, the Minneapolis officers called the Green Bay police "a joke" and said "Green Bay is too n----- friendly.” Harteau herself also became a target in the Minneapolis officers' tirade after one of the two men complained it would be a big deal for them to be named in a police report because "we have a lesbian f---ing chief that's looking to fire people for any reason."

After spending months appealing their firing, both Thole and Powell will have to leave their uniforms behind. When asked if there was one thing that tipped the scales toward termination, Harteau reflected and said, "Can't pick one thing -- all of it."

"It was how many things were said, how it was said, how those officers were treated," Harteau explained. "I thought to myself, 'If you can treat another law enforcement agency like this, how is it that you treat the community when no one is looking?'"

Since the incident came to light, Harteau has expanded her advisory council and has reached out to residents to tell them that those two officers don't represent the department as a whole. She also hopes other officers now take note of how they're expected to behave, on-duty or off.

"I hope it sends a message to the community -- and, hopefully, members of this police department -- that we are focused on a culture of accountability, and we are going to do what we can do to improve the public's trust," she said.

Both officers were on paid leave while they challenged their terminations, but the city's decision means those paychecks will come to an end. The two could still file an appeal through Hennepin County District Courts, but Harteau told Fox 9 News it's unlikely either will ever get their jobs back.

“It is never easy to face the decision to terminate one’s employment and I don’t take that responsibility lightly,” Harteau said in a statement after the commission's decision was released. “However, please be assured of my commitment to take every step possible to ensure the public trust necessary to an effective police force and the community it serves. This decision is indicative of the Minneapolis Police Department’s continued focus on a culture of accountability.”

FROM THE FOX 9 ARCHIVES

July 29, 2013: 2 Minneapolis cops on leave after off-duty tirade of racial slurs

July 30, 2013: 'Outraged' Harteau apologizes for officers' conduct in Green Bay

Aug. 2, 2013:
'No place for racism' in Minneapolis Police Department

Aug. 4, 2013:
Former Minneapolis police chief: 'Racism is everywhere'

Aug. 5, 2013: One-on-one with Harteau over videos

Aug. 7, 2013:
Harteau meets with advisory council over off-duty slurs

Aug. 10, 2013: No charges for Minneapolis cops' racial slurs

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