BLOOMINGTON — A Bloomington police officer's racial remark that came to light during a McLean County trial last week will be part of a broader review of how the department interacts with minority citizens, Mayor Tari Renner said Tuesday.
"The vast majority of our police officers are very, very impressive, but those types of comments are indefensible," Renner said of the remark.
A recorded exchange between Sgt. Ed Shumaker and Officer Stephen Statz was played last week at the trial of Gabriella Calhoun, a black woman who was charged with hitting a police officer during a June 2013 incident at Denny's Restaurant in Bloomington. A man was stabbed during a fight that broke out at the restaurant, and police officers were called in to clear the place.
On the recording played in court, Shumaker asked Statz if the stabbing victim was black; Statz confirmed that he was.
"Good. I hope he (expletive) bleeds to death in Normal," Shumaker replied.
"Yeah," Statz answered.
The jury that acquitted Calhoun of felony charges on Friday did not hear the exchange.
After the recording was made public in news accounts of the trial, Bloomington Police Chief Brendan Heffner issued a statement condemning the remarks. He said Shumaker had been disciplined, but did not specify what the punishment was.
Renner said he and City Manager David Hales have discussed a possible review of Shumaker's case as part of a larger look at minority issues.
All officers also will be required to attend upcoming diversity training titled "Police Response to Special Populations." The training will cover victims of elder abuse and domestic violence as well as issues facing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and racial minorities.
Heffner said the training has been planned for several months and is not in response to Shumaker's remark.
"We are trying to evolve as the public is evolving. We want officers to have an understanding of all the people of Bloomington," said the chief.
The city has received Freedom of Information Act requests from the media, including The Pantagraph, for details of the internal police investigation of Shumaker.
Renner said he supports release of that information. "You don't sweep this under the rug," he said.
Shortly after the 2013 incident, the police department issued a statement supporting the department's response to the incident that involved about 200 people. In last week's statement, Heffner, who was not with the department at the time of the incident, said an internal investigation was conducted and discipline was imposed in July 2013.
The results of internal police investigations are not exempt from public disclosure, according to past rulings by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
Previously, the city has released documents related to officer discipline, including former Assistant Police Chief Bob Wall, who was demoted after he struck a utility pole and left the scene of an accident.