MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The decision to fire two Minneapolis police officers, both of which are military veterans, for using racial slurs and other derogatory remarks in Green Bay, Wis., last year was upheld by the city’s Civil Service Commission.
Last week, the commission affirmed the discharge of SWAT officers Brian Thole and Shawn Powell.
Under the Veteran’s Preference Act, a veteran can only be fired for incompetency or misconduct. The Civil Service Commission, which sat in as a veteran’s preference board in this investigation, says it determined that the Minneapolis Police Department had just cause to fire both Thole and Powell.
Police Chief Janee Harteau released a statement Monday, saying that she took the firing of the officers very seriously and is committed to take every step possible to ensure public trust in the city’s police force.
According to investigators, Thole and Powell’s actions in Green Bay violated the Minneapolis Police Department’s code of conduct. The two got into a scuffle with a group of black men and demanded special treatment from Green Bay police because they were cops. No criminal charges were filed as result of the incident.
A detailed report states that Thole and Powell repeatedly used racial slurs in reference to black people.. Thole also used derogatory remarks, the report states, towards the sexuality of Harteau, his boss.
He reportedly said she was a “lesbian f—ing chief, who’s looking to fire people for any reason.”
When talking with Green Bay police immediately after the incident, Thole reportedly said it was his First Amendment right to use racial slurs. One Green Bay police officer, who heard this, said he couldn’t believe what was coming from the mouth of a Minneapolis police officer.
“I felt like I needed to break out the giant crayons and start drawing it on the wall for them,” he said.
Both Thole and Powell reportedly made disparaging remarks about the Green Bay Police Department. Thole called it a “clown show,” and Powell reportedly flicked off an officer.
In a memo detailing why she fired Thole and Powell, Harteau said their actions were “damaging and hurtful” not only to the black and GLBT communities, but to the Minneapolis Police Department as well. And although the incident occurred while the two were off duty, the chief said that their conduct was embarrassing and shameful.