Min­neapo­lis chief re­signs af­ter po­lice killing of Aus­tralian

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS - AMY FORLITI AND STEVE KARNOWSKI In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Kyle Pot­ter of The Associated Press.

MIN­NEAPO­LIS — Min­neapo­lis Po­lice Chief Ja­nee Harteau resigned Fri­day at the re­quest of the mayor, who said she lost con­fi­dence in the chief af­ter last week’s fa­tal shoot­ing of an un­armed Aus­tralian woman by a po­lice of­fi­cer.

In a state­ment re­leased Fri­day, Harteau said: “I’ve de­cided I am will­ing to step aside to let a fresh set of lead­er­ship eyes see what more can be done for the MPD to be the very best it can be.”

Min­neapo­lis Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a state­ment that she asked for the chief’s res­ig­na­tion.

“I’ve lost con­fi­dence in the chief’s abil­ity to lead us fur­ther. … It is clear that she has lost the con­fi­dence of the peo­ple of Min­neapo­lis as well,” Hodges said. “For us to con­tinue to trans­form polic­ing — and com­mu­nity trust in polic­ing — we need new lead­er­ship at [the Min­neapo­lis Po­lice Depart­ment].”

Hours later, Hodges tried to elab­o­rate on Harteau’s de­par­ture at a City Hall news con­fer­ence, but a few dozen pro­test­ers walked in and shouted her down. They waved signs with the phrases “Messy Betsy” and “You are next” on them and chanted “Bye-bye Betsy.” Hodges even­tu­ally gave up and left.

Harteau, who worked her way up from the bot­tom of the depart­ment to po­lice chief, said she was proud of the work she ac­com­plished and was hon­ored to serve as chief but that the shoot­ing of 40-year-old Jus­tine Da­mond by one of her of­fi­cers and other in­ci­dents “have caused me to en­gage in deep re­flec­tion.”

She added, “De­spite the MPD’s many ac­com­plish­ments un­der my lead­er­ship over these years and my love for the City, I have to put the com­mu­ni­ties we serve first.”

Harteau was out of the city on per­sonal time for nearly a week af­ter 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 Harteau’s first re­marks on the case Thurs­day — when she re­turned to work — she was sharply crit­i­cal of of­fi­cer Mo­hamed Noor, who is So­mali-Amer­i­can, while de­fend­ing his train­ing.

“These were the ac­tions and judg­ment of one in­di­vid­ual,” she said Thurs­day.

That wasn’t enough for some City Coun­cil mem­bers. Linea Palmisano, who rep­re­sents the ward where Da­mond died, called for a change in lead­er­ship Fri­day and told her fel­low coun­cil mem­bers that she was “done with im­age con­trol and cri­sis man­age­ment” and that it’s “time for ac­tion.”

Shortly af­ter the an­nounce­ment, Hodges nom­i­nated As­sis­tant Chief Medaria Ar­radondo to be the next chief. He served as the depart­ment’s pub­lic face af­ter Da­mond’s shoot­ing while Harteau was out of town.

Ar­radondo has been with the depart­ment since 1989.

Harteau has spent her ca­reer with the depart­ment, start­ing as a beat cop in 1987 when she was 22. She worked her way up the ranks and in 2012 was ap­pointed chief, be­com­ing the city’s first fe­male, first openly gay and first Amer­i­can In­dian po­lice chief.

But she had be­come a po­lit­i­cal li­a­bil­ity for Hodges, who’s in a tough re-elec­tion fight. Their re­la­tion­ship was strained, par­tic­u­larly af­ter the fa­tal shoot­ing of 24-year-old Ja­mar Clark dur­ing a con­fronta­tion with two white po­lice of­fi­cers in 2015.

The black man’s death, amid height­ened ten­sions around the U.S., sparked protests city­wide that in­cluded an 18-day oc­cu­pa­tion out­side the po­lice sta­tion on the city’s north side. A U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice re­view faulted poor communications be­tween the mayor and the chief.

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.

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