A white Minneapolis police officer was fired last week after a monthslong investigation concluded that he had acted inappropriately when he threatened to break the legs of a Somali teenager during a traffic stop last spring.
The officer, Rod Webber, was fired nearly a year after a profanity-laced video surfaced online of him berating 17-year-old Hamza Jeylani, saying “Plain and simple, if you [expletive] with me, I’m gonna break your legs before you get a chance to run.”
“Who said I was going to run?” the teenager asked.
“I’m just giving you a heads up, I’m trying to be officer friendly right now,” Webber is heard saying.
For some, that the March incident, which was recorded on a camera phone by one of Jeylani’s friends, underscored the tension between the police and minority neighborhoods in Minneapolis and around the country.
At one point the teen is heard asking Webber why he was being arrested, to which the officer responded: “Because I feel like arresting you.”
After the video began circulating online last May, Webber was placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation into whether his actions amounted to a violation of the officer’s conduct policy.
Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis president Lt. Bob Kroll said in a short statement released this week that the union was seriously weighing an appeal the officer’s firing, believed to be the seventh of police Chief Janeé Harteau’s tenure.
Kroll described Webber, a 25-year veteran of the force, as a “highly decorated” officer and said that “the board will ultimately appeal the termination as it was unwarranted.”
The union represents the city’s nearly 850 rank-and-file cops.
Harteau, through a spokesman, declined to comment specifically on the firing citing personnel issues, but insisted that public trust “is a vital component to our ability to fully protect and serve the residents of Minneapolis.”
“Officers will be held accountable if their actions are not consistent with our core values or the state’s Law Enforcement Code of Ethics,” the statement said.
Minneapolis City Council member Blong Yang, who heads the Public Safety Committee, said the process is likely to continue for some time if the union contests the firing.
“It’s an unfortunate situation all around,” he said. “...But we’ll let the process play out.”
Libor Jany • 612-673-4064 Twitter:@StribJany