MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis’ mayor said Thursday that she’s willing to drop a non-disparagement clause from the proposed separation agreement she negotiated with the city’s former police chief, who resigned under pressure in July after an Australian woman was fatally shot by a police officer.
The separation agreement would pay former Police Chief Janee Harteau $183,000.
The agreement requires City Council approval. Some council members have objected to the clause, which would bar Harteau from making negative statements about Mayor Betsy Hodges, council members and other top officials — and prohibit them from criticizing her.
Harteau told KARE-TV in an interview that aired Wednesday that she never asked for the clause.
Hodges acknowledged Thursday that she wanted the language as “an opportunity for everyone to take the high road” and a way to help close negotiations. The mayor, who is involved in a tough re-election campaign, said such clauses are common in separation agreements, but that she was happy to remove it if doing so “didn’t cost us more money.”
Hodges asked Harteau to resign six days after the fatal shooting of Justine Damond, who had called police to report a possible sexual assault behind her home on July 15. The Australian woman was fatally shot as she approached the responding squad car in the alley.
Damond, a life coach and bride-to-be, was unarmed. Authorities said she was shot once in the stomach by Officer Mohamed Noor, who has declined to be interviewed by investigators. His partner told investigators that he was startled by a loud noise right before Damond approached their police SUV.
Harteau was on a hiking trip in Colorado at the time of the shooting and didn’t return home for nearly four days. Hodges said at the time that she had lost confidence in the police chief.
The state’s investigation into the shooting is ongoing.