Min­neapo­lis chief re­signs af­ter shoot­ing of Aus­tralian woman

‘Put the com­mu­ni­ties we serve first’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Min­neapo­lis po­lice Chief Ja­nee Harteau says she is “will­ing to step aside to let a fresh set of lead­er­ship eyes” be in charge of the depart­ment, which has been crit­i­cized in the wake of last week­end’s fa­tal po­lice shoot­ing of an un­armed Aus­tralian woman who had called 911. Harteau’s res­ig­na­tion Fri­day came at the re­quest of Mayor Betsy Hodges, who said she lost con­fi­dence in the chief’s “abil­ity to lead us fur­ther.” She said she asked Harteau to step down af­ter as­sess­ing where the depart­ment needs to go.

“For us to con­tinue to trans­form polic­ing - and com­mu­nity trust in polic­ing - we need new lead­er­ship at MPD,” Hodges said. Harteau, who worked her way up from the bot­tom of the depart­ment to be­come the city’s first fe­male, first openly gay and first Na­tive Amer­i­can po­lice chief, said Fri­day that she was proud of the work she ac­com­plished and hon­ored to serve as chief. But she said the shoot­ing of 40-year-old Jus­tine Da­mond by one of her of­fi­cers and other in­ci­dents “have caused me to en­gage in deep re­flec­tion.”

The chief, who once suc­cess­fully filed a dis­crim­i­na­tion and sex­ual ha­rass­ment com­plaint against the po­lice force along with her part­ner, said she must “put the com­mu­ni­ties we serve first” de­spite the depart­ment’s ac­com­plish­ments un­der her lead­er­ship. Harteau was out of the city on per­sonal time for nearly a week fol­low­ing last Satur­day’s shoot­ing of Da­mond, a life coach and bride-to-be who was killed by an of­fi­cer re­spond­ing to her 911 call of a pos­si­ble rape.

The state is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the shoot­ing. In her first re­marks on the case Thurs­day when she re­turned to work, Harteau de­fended the train­ing of Mo­hamed Noor, the So­mali-Amer­i­can of­fi­cer who shot Da­mond, but was sharply crit­i­cal of him. Still, some City Coun­cil mem­bers called for a change in lead­er­ship. Linea Palmisano, who rep­re­sents the ward where Da­mond died, told fel­low coun­cil mem­bers that she was “done with im­age con­trol and cri­sis man­age­ment” and that it’s “time for ac­tion.” Af­ter Harteau’s res­ig­na­tion, Palmisano said she looks for­ward to the start of changes that she feels the depart­ment needs to make.

Shortly af­ter the an­nounce­ment, Hodges nom­i­nated As­sis­tant Chief Medaria Ar­radondo to be the next chief. Nick­named “Rondo,” he served as the depart­ment’s pub­lic face af­ter Da­mond’s shoot­ing while Harteau was out of town. Ar­radondo, who is African-Amer­i­can, has been with the depart­ment since 1989.

‘Bye-bye Betsy’

Later Fri­day, Hodges called a news con­fer­ence at City Hall to elab­o­rate on Harteau’s de­par­ture, but she was in­ter­rupted by a few dozen pro­test­ers who en­tered the room and de­manded that she re­sign, too. They chanted “Bye-bye Betsy” while wav­ing signs that said “Messy Betsy” and “You are next.” Hodges even­tu­ally walked out as they sur­rounded her at the podium, but she re­turned later to take ques­tions from re­porters.

She said she un­der­stands and shares the pub­lic’s frus­tra­tions, but “I will not be re­sign­ing.” Harteau, who started as a beat cop in 1987 at age 22 and was ap­pointed chief in 2012, had be­come a po­lit­i­cal li­a­bil­ity for Hodges, who faces sev­eral chal­lengers in a tough re-elec­tion fight. Their re­la­tion­ship was strained, par­tic­u­larly af­ter the fa­tal shoot­ing of 24year-old Ja­mar Clark dur­ing a con­fronta­tion with two white po­lice of­fi­cers in 2015. The black man’s death, amid height­ened ten­sions around the US, sparked protests city­wide that in­cluded an 18-day oc­cu­pa­tion out­side the po­lice sta­tion on the city’s north side. A US Depart­ment of Jus­tice re­view faulted poor communications be­tween the mayor and chief.

Harteau and Hodges clashed again in April when Hodges blocked Harteau’s pro­mo­tion of Lt John Del­monico to lead the Fourth Precinct, af­ter the chief had al­ready made the pub­lic an­nounce­ment. Del­monico had been a critic of the mayor when he headed the po­lice union. And it didn’t help that Harteau was out of town when Da­mond was killed. Harteau, who said she was back­pack­ing in an area with lim­ited cell­phone re­cep­tion, told re­porters Thurs­day that it would have been “chal­leng­ing” to re­turn but that she had kept in touch with her com­mand staff.

‘Be­yond dis­ap­pointed’

Po­lice union pres­i­dent Bob Kroll said Harteau’s res­ig­na­tion is a much-needed change for the depart­ment and that she han­dled Da­mond’s shoot­ing poorly. He said af­ter be­ing gone for days, she re­turned and “ba­si­cally throws the whole depart­ment un­der the bus.” He said he agrees with pro­test­ers that Hodges should be next to go, adding that the move against the chief was a po­lit­i­cal one for Hodges.

The mayor re­jected that no­tion, say­ing she made the de­ci­sion be­cause she’s mak­ing the city a pri­or­ity. Harteau and her long­time patrol part­ner, Holly Keegel, were fea­tured in a 1990 episode of the re­al­ity TV se­ries “Cops.” The part­ners en­dured years of ha­rass­ment from some male col­leagues, and it es­ca­lated to the point where they felt en­dan­gered be­cause they weren’t get­ting help when they would call for backup. The Min­nesota Depart­ment of Hu­man Rights up­held their dis­crim­i­na­tion and sex­ual ha­rass­ment com­plaint, which led to dis­ci­pline against some of­fi­cers and changes in train­ing.

Harteau and Keegel got mar­ried in 2013 af­ter gay mar­riage be­came le­gal in Min­nesota. Harteau told the Star Tri­bune a year later that they had separated amid the strains of her be­ing chief.

The chief was hon­ored as grand mar­shal of the city’s an­nual Pride Pa­rade three years ago. But in June, or­ga­niz­ers asked law en­force­ment to min­i­mize their par­tic­i­pa­tion due to ten­sions over a sub­ur­ban Min­neapo­lis po­lice of­fi­cer’s re­cent ac­quit­tal in last sum­mer’s fa­tal shoot­ing of black mo­torist Phi­lando Castile. Harteau said she was “be­yond dis­ap­pointed” that she was not con­sulted be­fore­hand, but later per­suaded or­ga­niz­ers to wel­come LGBT of­fi­cers af­ter all. — AP

— AP

MIN­NEAPO­LIS: Pro­test­ers carry signs as they march against po­lice vi­o­lence from Lor­ing Park to City Hall.

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