2 MPD Cops Suspended; Racial, Sexual Slurs Alleged

Updated: 07/27/2013 4:30 PM KSTP.com By: Mark Albert

Two Minneapolis police officers have been placed on administrative leave, accused of making racially and sexually derogatory statements that were so offensive, sources say, that fellow cops in Wisconsin reported them to the Minneapolis Police Department.

In a release Friday afternoon, the department would not describe the nature of the allegations or provide any specifics, saying state law "does not permit" Chief Janee Harteau from making "further comments at this time."

An MPD spokesperson declined to make anyone available for an interview and did not respond to an email from 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that sought confirmation of the specific allegations, which were provided to KSTP-TV by sources familiar with the investigation.

The two suspended Minneapolis police officers have been identified by those sources as Brian Thole and Shawn Powell. Both are on administrative leave, the department confirmed and have been reassigned from their normal SWAT team duties, sources said.

Late last month, the two officers, who are white, got into a heated dispute in a Green Bay, Wisconsin, bar with some African-American men, these sources said. Green Bay police told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the date of the incident was June 29.

When Green Bay police officers responded to the bar, sources said, Thole and Powell went with them voluntarily to the police station; they were not arrested.

While at the station, the two MPD officers allegedly made "racially derogatory" remarks about the men at the bar, according to a description the sources provided, and "offensive comments" about openly gay Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau's sexual orientation.

Green Bay police found the comments so offensive, they reported the remarks to Minneapolis police, the sources said.

After "thoroughly reviewing the available information," the MPD release said, Chief Harteau sent the case to the Internal Affairs unit for an investigation.

When reached by phone Friday afternoon, a Green Bay police spokesman declined to confirm his department's referral of the allegations to Minneapolis police.

Efforts to reach both officers for comment Friday night were not successful. Thole's Facebook page was deactivated around 7pm, a few hours after 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS broke the nature of the allegations online.

Thole has been in the Minnesota National Guard since 1997, a Guard spokesman confirmed.

Salary data provided by the department to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS earlier this year showed Thole made $43,465.97 in 2012 and Powell collected earnings of $63,030.02.