Voicemails, Emails Show 'Firestorm' after Mpls. Officers' Slurs

Updated: 08/02/2013 7:30 AM KSTP.com By: Mark Albert

Voicemails and emails exchanged between the Minneapolis Police Department and the Green Bay Police Department shine new light on the "firestorm" of controversy that ensued after two MPD cops were caught on video using racial slurs to describe black men and an expletive when referring to the sexual orientation of their openly gay, female police chief.

One voicemail left by the commander of the Minneapolis Police Internal Affairs Unit Medaria Arradondo was left for his Green Bay counterpart, Lt. Kevin Warych, on Friday, July 26 - the day the story broke.

"Say, just wanted to check base with you," Arradondo says on the 23-second recording. "I know you're getting besieged with media folks."

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS obtained the recordings and 40 pages of newly released communications between the two departments, including emails and text messages, after filing a public records request.

Click here to listen to five voicemails.

The communications were released Thursday by Green Bay police to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, a day after Minneapolis police produced far fewer emails for the same time period.

Among the emails released by GBPD was one sent on July 26 at 12:08p, that specifically mentions Officers Shawn Powell and Brian Thole by name. Until now, neither department has included their names in any public release; the identities of the officers involved were initially provided to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS last week by sources familiar with the investigation.

In a voicemail to Warych dated Thursday, July 25, the day before the MPD announced that two officers had been placed on leave, Minneapolis police spokeswoman Cyndi Barrington noted the department's planned silence on where the incident occurred.

"I have what we're going to put out," Barrington says on the message, referring to a news release that ultimately was sent to media organizations a day later. "There is no mention of Green Bay in it," Barrington said on the voicemail. "But give me a call as soon as you can. Thanks, Bye," Barrington's voicemail concludes.

The effort by the departments to keep key details of the incident secret - such as the city the incident occurred in and names of the Minneapolis officers involved - were unsuccessful even before the MPD news release went out, with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS learning the location of the incident, the names of the officers involved, the nature of the specific allegations, and the status of the officers.

Minneapolis initially said state law "does not permit Chief Harteau or any City of Minneapolis employee to make further comments." But an "outraged" Harteau issued a statement four days later apologizing to the community and Green Bay Police for the officers' conduct and then did an on-camera interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS where she stated that the officers' actions on the tapes were "not conduct becoming a Minneapolis police officer."

Thole and Powell are under Internal Affairs investigation and have not commented publicly, despite efforts to reach them.

Dash camera video taken from several Green Bay police squad cars shows the pair, who are white, getting into an altercation with several black men, disparaging the police who responded as part of a "clown show," and referring to Harteau in a derogatory manner.

As 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reported Wednesday, the decision by Green Bay police to report the officers to Minneapolis police was made because if the roles were reversed, "we would want to know," Warych told his Minneapolis counterpart in an email released by MPD.

Thursday's email release, from Green Bay police, shows that decision was made at the very top.

The Minneapolis Internal Affairs commander wrote to his counterpart on Thurs, July 21, 2013, "I can assure you that my chief also appreciates the fact that your chief had concern regarding this unfortunate incident and wanted to make her aware."