Suspended MPD Officers Named in Civil Rights Lawsuits

Updated: 07/27/2013 6:43 PM By: Beth McDonough

New information about those two Minneapolis officers who are on leave, accused, sources say, of using racial and sexual remarks after an incident in Green Bay, Wisc.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has obtained court documents that reveal both officers have been named in separate, unrelated and ongoing federal lawsuits, alleging they violated the civil rights of minorities stemming from cases that occurred before last month's Green Bay incident.

Ofc. Shawn Powell was also among the officers named in a now-closed lawsuit that resulted in a settlement by the city of $235,000 to the plaintiff, Derryl Jenkins, whose beating by officers was captured on a now-notorious dash cam video tape that contributed to department-wide changes in the use of force under previous the chief of police, Tim Dolan.

Sources familiar with the recent case in Green Bay tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Ofc. Powell and Thole got into a heated dispute with two men who were African-American at a bar. Green Bay police were then called to the scene.
Thole and Powell voluntarily went back to police station with them, sources said, and were not under arrest. While at the station, the two Minneapolis officers are accused of making a "sexual offensive" comment about their openly gay police chief, Janee' Harteau, along with several "racially derogatory" remarks about the black men at the bar.

Thole and Powell are white.

The ongoing federal lawsuit naming Ofc. Powell as a defendant involves a man who was shot to death by officers during a police chase when the man drove a stolen vehicle directly at officers, according to the court documents.

Separately, the closed case involving Ofc. Powell was brought by Jenkins.

The ongoing federal lawsuit naming Ofc. Thole stemmed from a "no-knock" warrant raid at a home in North Minneapolis.

A judge heard arguments Thursday by the city arguing that the complaint should be dismissed. The judge took the matter under advisement and has not yet ruled.

Click here to read the various lawsuits.