Samuels says two officers should quit.
Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau and Mayor R.T. Rybak said Tuesday they were angered and appalled by two police officers’ racist and derogatory language during a scuffle in Green Bay, Wis., and a City Council member called on them to resign.
Don Samuels, chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee who is running for mayor, said the officers should quit now to save the Police Department the trouble of going through an internal affairs review.
“I can tell you that the words used by these officers are intolerable, extremely hateful and show that they cannot honorably serve and protect every resident of Minneapolis,” especially those in the gay and black communities, he said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Some of the comments that officers Brian Thole and Shawn Powell made after the early-morning fight with a group of black men outside a Green Bay bar last month were captured on video as they called the black men a racial slur, derided the local police as a “clown show” and acknowledged that they threw the first punch.
“What I saw and heard on the video posted on several news websites involving these two officers is appalling and goes against everything we stand for,” Harteau said.
The Green Bay Police Department on Monday released a report on the incident, as well as the videos; one taken by a squad car camera and a second by a lobby camera at police headquarters.
“The type of behavior exhibited on the public video significantly damages public trust,” continued Harteau. “Every member of this department and community deserves better.” She apologized for the officers’ behavior in her statement.
Adding that he was disgusted by the officers’ comments, Rybak said in a statement issued Tuesday that he was confident Chief Harteau would take appropriate actions after an internal affairs investigation concludes.
Thole and Powell were removed from the department’s SWAT team and suspended from the force with pay last week.
According to Green Bay police: The two men had been drinking, and at least one of the Green Bay police officers noted in the report that one of the officers smelled of alcohol. The two men, both white, had a brief fight with a group of black men that left one of the officers with a swollen eye and a cut to the chest, Green Bay authorities noted.
The Minneapolis officers were upset their names were taken, saying they didn’t want their names put in any reports. “We have a lesbian [expletive] chief that’s looking to fire people for any reason,” one told the Green Bay police.
The fight began shortly after 1 a.m. when the two, who were off duty, walked past a group of nine black men in downtown Green Bay. “These dudes were doing there little monkey thing,” one of the Minneapolis cops told Green Bay police, “and they came up and said some [expletive], and we’re like what, and he turns around and four of them come at us, and I [expletive] punched one of them,” said the Minneapolis officer.
The fight was quickly over, but the two Minneapolis officers spent the next hour or two talking to Green Bay police, calling the local department a joke, telling the officers to “[expletive] off” and making an obscene gesture at one of the local police officers. Hours after the confrontation, one of the Minneapolis officers was conciliatory, telling a Green Bay officer he knew personally that he was sorry for his behavior, acknowledging that he had been drunk.
The Minneapolis officer “told me to apologize to the night shift for being drunk and heated,” reported Green Bay officer Nate Allen.
Powell, who once worked for the Green Bay department, and Thole were in Green Bay for personal reasons.
Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747