A one-time top Minneapolis police official claims that he was unfairly stripped of his command because of his decision to run for Hennepin County sheriff.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Eddie Frizell sued Chief Janeé Harteau and the city of Minneapolis for “loss of reputation, humiliation, embarrassment, inconvenience (and) mental and emotional anguish.” The suit seeks $100,000 in damages and the reinstatement of his command.
Frizell alleges that as a military veteran, he should have been granted a “pretermination hearing” after being demoted on his first day back from a six-month leave of absence to challenge incumbent Sheriff Rich Stanek.
In private conversations, Harteau reportedly told Frizell that his demotion was due to “team dynamics,” without elaborating further, the lawsuit says. The following day, the chief announced a reshuffling of her command staff, which included the elimination of Frizell’s position.
Once a deputy chief of patrol, Frizell was demoted to lieutenant, down two ranks, and reassigned to the domestic assault unit, the lawsuit says. His salary was also cut.
“As a result of his demotion to lieutenant, Frizell’s salary was reduced from $123,037.00 to $106,500.16, along with his rank and duties,” the lawsuit says. “He now supervises four officers, has a tiny office, and is now required to report to a formerly subordinate officer.”
In his absence, command of the patrol division was handed to Assistant Chief Matt Clark, an arrangement that provided “more synergy and continuity,” Harteau said.
“Eddie Frizell has devoted his entire adult life to serving his country and his community,” said his attorney, Natalie Wyatt-Brown. “The chief of police must be held accountable for destroying his 22-year career in violation of rights.”
A police spokesman and the city’s attorney office did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
Frizell was initially offered the rank of commander of operations and administration, which would have put him in charge of recruitment and hiring, but Harteau pulled the offer after he was quoted in the Star Tribune as saying that he was “dismayed” with the move, the suit alleges.
Frizell said that on Nov. 20, he was summoned to Harteau’s office for a meeting with the chief and the deputy chief of professional standards, Travis Glampe. The suit says that the chief had a copy of the newspaper article, with Frizell’s comments highlighted.
The lawsuit alleges that Harteau challenged Frizell’s account in the newspaper and questioned his desire to be with the department.
Harteau earlier was sued by a group of former police captains whom she demoted.