Harteau pledges 'dialogue' to address racial incidents

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 3, 2013 - 12:29 AM

Janee Harteau said racism “will not be tolerated” in Police Department.

 

As more evidence surfaced Friday in a case alleging racist behavior by Minneapolis police officers, Chief Janeé Harteau announced she would create a dialogue with cultural and faith leaders in the weeks ahead to rebuild the public’s trust in the department.

Adding that she and other Minneapolis officers were angered over the reports, Harteau pledged to work with the city’s civil rights director and a newly created commission to address the issue.

“The bottom line is that there is no place for racism or discrimination of any kind within the MPD. It will not be tolerated, period,” she said.

Her statement came as a video made available Friday to the Star Tribune shows several white men follow a group of black men into the parking lot of an Apple Valley bar moments before a fight broke out on Nov. 19. Three off-duty Minneapolis police officers — William C. Woodis, Christopher J. Bennett and Andrew R. Allen — were cited for assault in that fight by the Apple Valley police.

One of the black men who was punched and kicked in the fight said he was called a “fat [racial expletive],” according to an Apple Valley police report from that night.

The video includes a time stamp showing Rodney and Mike Spann, Tyrone Franson and Lovell Garner, all black men, enter Bogart’s Place at 12:42 a.m. and stay inside for less than 40 seconds.

There’s no physical interaction with anyone as they look around the bar and then go outside to a patio area.

The video shows two of them walk off the patio and head toward the parking lot at 12:45 a.m. Three white men follow them. A third black man then exits the patio and pushes his way past one of the white men, who is blocking the patio’s exit. One more black man and four white men then walk off the patio toward the parking lot.

The fight happened moments later, just out of view of the camera.

The Apple Valley police officers who responded to the fight charged the Minneapolis officers with fifth degree assault based on the video and interviews with a witness, the Minneapolis officers, and Spann and his group of friends.

It was the second incident of alleged racism by off-duty Minneapolis officers to become public over the past week. In a June 29 incident in Green Bay, Wis., two officers — Brian Thole and Shawn Powell — used racial and sexual slurs during and after a fight with several black men, then berated members of the Green Bay Police Department who came to investigate. The Minneapolis officers were caught on video and included in a Green Bay police report.

The fight was quickly over, but Thole and Powell 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 five officers in both cases are now the subject of Internal Affairs investigations due to the incidents. Thole and Powell were removed from the department’s SWAT team and suspended from the force with pay last week.

The cases came to light as some were already protesting what they saw as racial motivations in the shooting death of Terrence Franklin, a 22-year-old black man who was killed May 10 by SWAT officers in the basement of an Uptown house as they tried to capture him. A burglary suspect, Franklin had fled police earlier that day.

 

Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747

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    Two security camera videos from Bogart's Place, an Apple Valley bar, shows the moments before a Nov. 19, 2012, fight involving off-duty Minneapolis police officers

  • Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau

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