Chief Harteau, a 30-year veteran of the Minneapolis police force, said in a statement that “the recent incidents do not reflect the training and procedures we’ve developed as a department.”
“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 M.P.D. to be the very best it can be,” Chief Harteau said. “The city of Minneapolis deserves the very best.”
Ms. Damond’s death was the latest high-profile episode that raised questions about police tactics under Chief Harteau’s watch. Weeks of protests followed the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man, in 2015.
Nekima Levy-Pounds, a civil rights lawyer and activist running for mayor of Minneapolis, said Chief Harteau “needed to be fired.” Ms. Levy-Pounds said it had been “a slap in the face to people of color” that the chief spoke out about the death of Ms. Damond, who was white, after defending officers involved in past shootings of black people.
“She is attempting to paint this as an isolated case based on one officer’s poor judgment as opposed to a systemic pattern,” Ms. Levy-Pounds said.
Ms. Hodges, who is up for re-election in November and who has faced criticism for her own handling of police issues, said she was appreciative of Chief Harteau’s service but had requested her resignation.
“In conversation with the chief today, she and I agreed that she would step aside to make way for new leadership,” Ms. Hodges said. “I asked Chief Harteau for her resignation, she tendered it, and I have accepted it.”
Chief Harteau was the first woman to serve as Minneapolis police chief, and is also openly gay. She worked her way through the ranks of the department after joining in 1987, and was seen by some nationally as a police reformer who outfitted officers with body cameras and advocated restorative justice. But locally, her department faced frequent protests and criticisms for its use of force and treatment of black people.
Chief Harteau was also believed to have a strained relationship with Ms. Hodges. The two leaders faced criticism from the Justice Department for their coordination during 2015 protests. And earlier this year, Ms. Hodges publicly overruled the chief on a promotion decision.
State investigators continue to probe Ms. Damond’s death. Both Ms. Hodges and Chief Harteau have said she should not have been shot. “Justine didn’t have to die,” Chief Harteau said on Thursday, citing information released by state officials investigating the case. “I believe the actions in question go against who we are as a department, how we train and the expectations we have for our officers.”