The former face of the Minneapolis Police Department, and now whistleblower Sgt. Jesse Garcia is filing a lawsuit against the department, and it all has to do with the man seen in the infamous Pointergate photo with Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.
Lately every move in the Minneapolis Police Department seems loaded with Machiavellian intrigue. Sgt. Jesse Garcia will file a whistleblower lawsuit Tuesday, claiming he was transferred for pursuing an armed robbery case again Navell Gordon, who achieved a kind of infamy when he posed with Mayor Hodges. Another local television station claimed they were flashing a gang sign. Meanwhile, the story became a national punchline.
However, Sgt. Garcia will claim he paid the price. He was immediately transferred from downtown robbery to the 3rd Precinct Property Crimes Unit with the same rank, same pay and benefits, but less prestige.
He's not the only cop to make such a claim. Former Deputy Chief Eddie Frizell has filed a federal lawsuit, claiming after he took a 6-month leave to run for sheriff, Chief Harteau told him she was "moving him out of the front office," because of "team dynamics." Frizell went from Deputy Chief to Commander, and finally, Lieutenant of the Domestic Violence Task Force. His salary dropped from $123,000 to $106,000.
Another lawsuit filed by five former captains claims similar retaliation after the rank of captain was eliminated, including former Inspector Mike Martin, one of the state's leading experts on gangs, who went from Inspector in north Minneapolis, to Captain, to Lieutenant in sex crimes, a unit where he had no experience.
Chief Harteau won't talk about any of these lawsuits, but sources told Fox 9 she considers transfers good for the department, that they share their experience, and that no one is entitled to a job forever.
In a statement on Monday, the MPD said, "the Chief makes decisions that are best for the organization and individuals, even if they don't realize it at the time."
For Sgt. Garcia, the lawsuit comes with a poignant urgency. On Facebook, he recently announced he's been diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer. As he fights for his life, he's fighting for his old job, and more than likely, some vindication.
The President of the Police Union, John Delmonico said he believes Sgt. Garcia's transfer was punitive and political. The union had already filed a separate grievance on behalf of Sgt. Garcia. The other lawsuits are scheduled to go to trial later this year.