A week after he publicly contradicted his supervisor, a well-respected Minneapolis Police Department homicide detective was assigned to a less prominent investigative division.
Sgt. Charlie Adams, who has been with the department for 22 years, was removed Wednesday at the request of Lt. Amelia Huffman because of several incidents of insubordination, said Chief Tim Dolan. The "final straw," he said, was critical comments Adams made in the Star Tribune on Nov. 20, disputing Huffman's account about the motive in the beating death of bicyclist Mark Loesch.
In announcing charges in the case, Huffman said the suspect told police that Loesch, 41, was in the 3700 block of Elliot Avenue S. to buy marijuana. Adams said that there was no proof of a drug deal and that detectives in the case ''shouldn't get beat up for another person's comment."
"Charlie is a very good homicide detective, but his relationship with his commander wasn't working," Dolan said. "In one word: insubordination. He needed to go."
Adams and his partner, Sgt. Richard Zimmerman, were routinely assigned the city's high-profile homicide cases and have a strong record of solving them. Their work has helped lead to arrests in the death last year of Courtney Brown over a retro basketball jersey and the fatal shooting this year of 14-year-old Charez Jones.
One of the best detectives
Adams spent 5½ years in homicide and has never been suspended or disciplined during his career. Lt. Lee Edwards, who was head of homicide before Huffman took over in September, said Adams was one of the best homicide detectives.
"He and Zimmerman were routinely put on the high-profile cases," Edwards said. "That wasn't by accident. You put your best players on these cases."
Edwards said he never had an issue of insubordination with Adams. Dolan wouldn't elaborate on the incidents involving Huffman, but said his actions didn't have a negative impact on any cases.
Huffman said she wouldn't discuss the details of a personnel decision in the news media.
"However, this decision like other personnel matters, reflects the department's need to preserve effective operations and the ability to investigate and provide police service," she said.
He'll join investigations unit
Adams will be transferred to the investigations unit in the Fourth Precinct, which covers the city's North Side. The unit handles cases such as burglary, auto theft, property crimes and forgery.
Dolan said Huffman asked her supervisors, Capt. David Hayhoe and Deputy Chief Valerie Wurster, to transfer Adams. Dolan supported their decision.
"I wouldn't even be discussing this transfer publicly if Adams hadn't made his comments in the newspaper," Dolan said. "His actions were impacting the overall effectiveness and cohesiveness of the unit."
Samantha Loesch, Mark Loesch's wife, said Wednesday evening that "it's shameful that the Minneapolis Police Department would discipline a good detective for telling the honest truth."
When the upset family called Adams after Huffman's news conference, he told them he said to Huffman there was no proof of a drug buy and apologized to them that the allegation was released.
Mark Loesch, 41, was beaten and robbed in September when he went on a late-night bicycle ride. Police hadn't discussed the motive for his death until the news conference where charges in the case were announced.
Dolan said that Huffman also talked to Zimmerman about his comments about the case and that they worked out their differences.
Adams could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
Black leaders cry foul
Adams' transfer has outraged some black city and community leaders who questioned why another high-ranking black officer has been repositioned. Zimmerman is white. Since Dolan took the top spot he has demoted four top-ranking black officers including former deputy chief Don Harris, Fourth Precinct Inspectors Don Banham and Lee Edwards and now Adams. Dolan denied race played a role in any of the demotions.
"Charlie has connections to the community to get these cases solved," said community activist Spike Moss. "He's a damn good officer who's loved and respected in this city. He respects his badge and does his job. The city itself lost something."
"Everything was all right until [Dolan] got in that spot last year," Moss said. "The chief is consistently getting rid of top officers of color. Just go ahead and put up a sign that says 'Whites only.' Boldly do it. Come out of the dark and be the racist that you want to be. The black community has got to stand up and say enough is enough. We're tired of this."
Adams also is acting president of the department's Black Police Officers Association and a longtime friend of Ron Edwards, co-chairman of the Police Community Relations Council. Edwards said the transfer is part of a calculated effort to break the back of the association.
The council has been working with police for the past four years to complete a mediation agreement aimed at improving relations with minority communities in particular. But Edwards said Dolan continues to breach a section of the agreement that would require the department to consider diversity when promoting officers.
'Cloak of secrecy'
City Council member Ralph Remington also called the action disturbing.
"Police management is not my expertise, but I have to look at these actions with a jaundiced eye," Remington said. "This smacks of institutionalized racism. Does it come from the top? The proof is in the pudding. Furthermore, there should be a department-wide investigation and the mayor should look into it as well.
"I think that we have to stop this cloak of secrecy around these personnel actions, particularly as it relates to people of color,'' he added. "The city, the community, requires no less."