Rybak, Harteau 'appalled' by officers' conduct in Green Bay incident

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Police Chief Janee Harteau on Tuesday expressed outrage over the behavior of two city police officers heard using profanity and racially offensive language in Green Bay last month.

Minneapolis police officers Brian Thole and Shawn Powell are under an internal investigation. Police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer would not say if Thole and Powell were the two officers involved in the incident. However, Palmer confirmed that both have been placed on home assignment.

The episode, which occurred when the two officers were off duty, was captured in a video released by the Green Bay Police Department and obtained by KARE-11.

According to Green Bay police reports, two white Minneapolis police officers who identified themselves as members of the SWAT Team, were involved in a confrontation with several black men. Green Bay police officers said the two Minneapolis officers claimed they had been jumped by the other men and that they acted in self defense.

The report also said that the Minneapolis officers made derogatory comments about Green Bay officers.

When Green Bay police tried to calm them down, the report said, the two Minneapolis officers used profanity with the officers and toward Harteau, the city's first openly gay police chief. One of the Minneapolis officers said Harteau was "looking to fire people for any reason."

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The behavior caught by cameras outraged Harteau, who on Tuesday apologized to the Minneapolis community and Green Bay police.

Read the Green Bay Police Department's incident report

"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 type of behavior exhibited on the public video significantly damages public trust. Every member of this department and community deserves better."

Citing data privacy laws, Harteau said she could not comment further.

Rybak expressed dismay at what he saw.

"I was appalled and disgusted by the behavior of two Minneapolis police officers that I saw on the video from Green Bay," the mayor said. "The actions, language and behavior I saw in no way reflect the values of a department paid to protect and serve our community. I will await the results of the internal investigation and I am confident that Chief Harteau will take all appropriate action."

Harteau has said she will not tolerate discriminatory language or conduct from officers. According to the department's discipline guidelines, officers can be fired for using language that is biased against protected classes.

That may not occur in this case, said Gregg Corwin, a private attorney who often represents Minneapolis police officers who challenge their terminations.

"I don't see the kind of serious misconduct here that would justify a termination," Corwin said.

Minneapolis City Council member and mayoral candidate Don Samuels called for the resignation of two Minneapolis police officers.

Samuels, who chairs the council's public safety committee says the officers don't represent the values of the police department.

"I've always said we must support the police department, even when it's politically difficult," he said. "But I've also said that we must call out bad apples when we see them, and this is a clear case where we have bad apples and we must go."

Green Bay police released a statement about the disturbance that does not detail the specific language the officers used. It said:

"On June 29, Green Bay Police Department officers responded to a disturbance in the downtown area. The disturbance involved several male parties including two off-duty Minneapolis police department officers. The incident was documented by the Green Bay Police Department and the parties were dispersed without an arrest. Based on the circumstances, the incident was forwarded to the Minneapolis police professional standards division."

This police report was provide to MPR News by KARE-11: