Video: Off-duty Minn. cops insult Wis. police in hostile exchange
2 Minn. officers have been suspended with pay while an investigation is conducted of the incident
By Matt McKinney
MINNEAPOLIS — A pair of off-duty Minneapolis police officers disparaged their police chief as a lesbian and insulted members of the Green Bay Police Department during an expletive-laden rant that included racial slurs, according to a police report from Green Bay, Wis.
The officers used a slur to describe a group of men they scuffled with early that morning, called the local police a "clown show" and said Green Bay was "too [racial slur] friendly," the 40-page report said in the first details released of the incident.
When they didn't feel the officers at the scene were taking them seriously, the report said the two went to the Green Bay police station, where they pointed out several times that they were full-time SWAT officers.
The Minneapolis officers, whom Star Tribune sources have identified as Brian Thole and Shawn Powell, were suspended with pay last week while an Internal Affairs investigation reviews the June 29 incident. The officers were not arrested at the time, but were warned by Green Bay police they faced arrest if they didn't stop creating a disturbance, according to the report.
The Minneapolis officers were upset their names were taken, saying they didn't want their names put in any reports. "We have a lesbian [expletive] chief that's looking to fire people for any reason," one told the Green Bay police.
Powell, who served on the Green Bay Police Department, and Thole were in Green Bay for personal reasons.
Seeking special treatment
According to the report: Powell and Thole said they had gone out drinking when they passed a group of nine black men on the sidewalk shortly after 1 a.m. One of them bumped into one of the officers, who then traded words with the group. One of the black men then approached the officers with his chest puffed out and more words were spoken. Saying he feared for his safety, one of the Minneapolis officers punched the man in the face.
Several Green Bay officers responded to the confrontation in downtown Green Bay. The Minneapolis officers were agitated and complained that the local police weren't doing enough to find the men involved in the confrontation.
"We're police officers," one said. "I punched him in the face and I will do it again."
One of the Minneapolis officers said the men involved in the altercation "were doing their monkey thing."
A Green Bay police officer reported afterward that the Minneapolis cops "expected preferential treatment" and had pointed out "several times that they were full-time SWAT officers." The Minneapolis officers were told to go back to their hotel, but as they left they told Green Bay police officers to [expletive] off and gave one of them the finger.
An hour later, Thole and Powell went to the Green Bay police station, where the shift commander met them in the lobby. They complained about their treatment, saying they were the victims and the police hadn't done anything.
Green Bay Police Lt. Steve Mahoney told the Minneapolis cops that if anyone was going to get charged, it would be them for disorderly conduct, the report said.
One of the Minneapolis cops called that "bullshit" and said he had a First Amendment right to use a racial slur. The conversation was very animated and Lt. Mahoney wrote he grew concerned that it would turn physical.
Thole and Powell left and returned to their hotel.
Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, the city's first gay police chief, sent out a statement Friday that said two officers had been suspended pending an internal affairs investigation. She has not commented publicly.
The sources said the officers have been removed from the SWAT team. Neither officer could be reached for comment Monday night.
Thole and Powell are named in separate, ongoing misconduct suits. Thole was one of seven officers sued over a "no-knock" warrant served Sept. 13 at a house. Powell was one of six officers sued over the 2009 shooting death of Ahmed Mohamed Guled, whose family said police used "excessive, unreasonable and deadly force" in the shooting.
Copyright 2013 the Star Tribune