At the request of the mayor, Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau announced her resignation Friday afternoon in the aftermath of the officer-involved shooting of Justine Damond, a 40-year-old Australian woman.
Last Saturday, Damond called 911 around 11:30 p.m. to report a possible sexual assault near her home in south Minneapolis, and one of the responding officers, Mohamed Noor, shot her from the squad car. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the shooting.
Mayor Betsy Hodges said she would nominate Assistant Chief Medaria Arradondo, a 28-year veteran of the force, to replace Harteau.
“Last Saturday’s tragedy as well as some other recent incidents have caused me to engage in deep reflection,” Harteau said in a statement. “The recent incidents do not reflect the training and procedures we developed as a department. 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.
“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. The city of Minneapolis deserves the very best.”
The killing of Damond, along with other high-profile officer-involved shootings has generated public skepticism about the department and training, and has called into question why the officers weren’t recording the shooting with body cameras. Harteau tried to distance the department from the incident in a press conference Thursday, calling the shooting “one individual’s actions” and representative of the force. She agreed that the officers should have been recording and said Noor shooting over his partner and out the window of the squad car is “not how we train.”
Harteau has also endured criticism for being out of the state and not returning for four days after shooting. Harteau said Thursday she was backpacking in the mountains and getting regular updates on the case from her staff.
Mayor Betsy Hodges, who has frequently been at odds with Harteau, issued a statement immediately after the resignation, saying she has “lost confidence in the Chief’s ability to lead us further — and from the many conversations I’ve had with people around our city, especially this week, it is clear that she has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis as well.”
“For us to continue to transform policing — and community trust in policing — we need new leadership at MPD,” she said. “In conversation with the Chief today, she and I agreed that she would step aside to make way for new leadership. I asked Chief Harteau for her resignation, she tendered it, and I have accepted it,” Hodges said.
Arradondo served as the face of the department over the past week while Harteau was out of the state on personal time off. Hodges lauded his leadership, saying “The experience of working closely with him over the past week, which has been so hard on everyone in Minneapolis, has solidified my confidence.”
Call from the mayor, councilmembers
In a meeting midday Friday, Hodges told a City Council member that she had the votes on the executive committee to fire Harteau, and planned to fire her or ask her to resign, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the conversation. There has also been discussions among city officials about preparing a severance package for Harteau.
Sources say the conversation began when City Councilmember Linea Palmisano called for a change in leadership to address a “systematic problem” with police at a council meeting Friday morning, prompting others on the council to join in support of removing Harteau. Several council members said during the meeting and in subsequent interviews that they would like to oust Harteau or amend the city charter to give the council oversight of the department.
“We literally have more oversight of potholes than we do our own police. I think that’s wrong. I think that needs to change,” said Council Member Andrew Johnson.