MPD Chief: Slur Cases Could be Referred to FBI

Updated: 08/06/2013 7:29 AM By: Mark Albert

The chief of the Minneapolis Police Department says she has "absolutely" thought about referring to the FBI one or both of the recent cases involving five officers accused of using racial slurs in two separate incidents that were caught on videotape.

"I put everything under consideration," Chief Janee Harteau told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in an interview Monday in her City Hall office.

When asked whether she had thought about sending the cases to the FBI for an inquiry into possible criminal or civil rights violations, Harteau said, "Absolutely. I think about a variety of things when it comes to these things."

"The question will be if it's necessary. And I haven't come to any conclusion yet," said Harteau.

Officers Shawn Powell and Brian Thole were caught on a dash camera in late June outside a Green Bay bar using racial slurs to refer to several black men they got into an altercation with; using an expletive when referring to the sexual orientation of Chief Harteau, who is openly gay; and disparaging the Green Bay police officers who responded to the incident, according to the videos and police reports.

Both are on paid administrative leave while under investigation by MPD’s Internal Affairs Unit.

When asked whether, if the decision were solely up to her in a personal capacity, Ofcs Powell and Thole would ever walk a beat again in the MPD or would have ever been hired by her in the first place, Harteau answered "no."

Ofcs. William Woodis, Christopher Bennett, and Andrew Allen are not on leave after an incident last year in Apple Valley, which just came to light last week, although all three remain under Internal Affairs investigation, the department said Monday.

Watch our story above to hear more of our interview with Chief Harteau including what prompted her to tell our Mark Albert "I'm not a babysitter."

In his first interview since the scandal broke July 26, Lt. John Delmonico, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, which represents nearly all of the 850 officers on the force, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Monday evening that the use of racial or sexual slurs by officers - even while off-duty - "is unacceptable behavior."

"We are police officers 24 hours a day, seven days a week and we are held to a higher standard on and off duty," Delmonico said.

"I want the community to know that the 850 of us that come to work every day to serve the citizens of Minneapolis aren't going anywhere. We do a great job every day. Don't give up on us, keep supporting us, and we will be there for you tomorrow. And when we have bad apples, we will deal with it. You will see," promised Delmonico.

The Federation issued its first statement on the Green Bay and Apple Valley incidents Sunday, nine days after the Green Bay incident became public.

"Saying nothing to me was not the right thing to do," Delmonico said. When asked whether the union's initial silence, had it continued, could allow some in the community to interpret it as implicit support for the conduct of the five officers, Delmonico replied: "Not just the community, but the police officers. I mean, I've heard from cops from day one - this is unacceptable."