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BPD officer received reprimand for racial comment

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BLOOMINGTON — A Bloomington police sergeant received a written reprimand in 2013 after he was recorded on an in-car police camera saying he hoped a black stabbing victim "bleeds to death."

According to a document obtained Wednesday by The Pantagraph through a Freedom of Information Act request, Edward Shumaker received the reprimand following a Sept. 4, 2013, meeting with R.T. Finney, who was then interim police chief, and Assistant Police Chief Clay Wheeler.

The comment was made during a conversation with officer Stephen Statz about 2:05 a.m. on June 30, 2013, after police responded to a fight inside the Denny's Restaurant at 701 S. Eldorado Road in Bloomington.

The video and recording were made public last week during the trial of Gabriella Calhoun, who was charged with hitting a police officer inside the restaurant. Calhoun was acquitted.

The written reprimand came as a result of conduct unbecoming of an officer, according to the record of disciplinary action.

The reprimand was signed by Finney and Shumaker and included a summary of corrective action: "Employee should be very aware of his surroundings and situational awareness while not allowing the stressor of an event to cause a comment that would be considered inappropriate."

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Current Police Chief Brendan Heffner said Wednesday police officials are "disturbed and deeply saddened that one of our officers made such comments," but take a variety of factors into consideration when determining disciplinary action.

"There had not been a pattern of this type of behavior and that is a factor when we are considering discipline and there have not been any issues since," he said. "We have all learned from this, but I have spoken with every shift and reminded our officers that whether they are being recorded or not, these comments are inappropriate and not acceptable."

After learning of the reprimand Wednesday, Mayor Tari Renner said, "This is deeply disturbing to me as a mayor and a citizen. This is not the Bloomington that I want for the future as mayor. We are better than this."

Renner said he is pleased the records were released, adding he he has talked with the City Council, adding aldermen should consider a review of the consequences officers should face for racial remarks.

City Manager David Hales said he was troubled and upset that a Bloomington police officer made the comments.

"Such comments are unacceptable anywhere in our organization and not indicative of the city’s values," he said. "Chief Heffner has made great strides in training his officers and further developing a culture that accepts and celebrates diversity, and I look forward to continuing work with him on these efforts."

Heffner said the department will continue to work with civic leaders and organizations to improve relations with the community.

"I want our citizens to know we are working together and always there to serve and protect them," he said.

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