Investigatory interview of Michigan’s top cop not released
By DAVID EGGERT
LANSING — Michigan State Police declined Wednesday to release a transcript or summary of an investigatory interview with the law enforcement agency’s director over her decision to share a Facebook post calling NFL players who kneel during the national anthem “anti-American degenerates.”
The department cited a 2006 state law that says involuntary statements made by officers are confidential. Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, who was docked five days of pay by Gov. Rick Snyder, has apologized but not publicly explained why she shared the meme on her personal Facebook page on Sept. 24. The law allows her to consent to release the internal affairs interview that was conducted Oct. 5, yet she decided not to do so.
“Per statute, it is her right to exempt her statement,” State Police spokeswoman Shanon Banner said.
The department released records from its internal investigation of Etue on Wednesday in response to a request from The Associated Press.
The investigator determined that Etue violated department policies, but her recommended punishment was not disclosed because it was preliminary and not the final determination or action, Banner said.
In the end, Snyder made the call on Etue’s punishment. The probe was initiated at the request of Etue’s chief of staff, Capt. Gregory Zarotney, a day after the Detroit Free Press reported on her sharing of the Facebook post.
Etue, who is white, has been under fire from black lawmakers and others for the Facebook post, which described NFL players who kneel during the anthem as “millionaire ingrates who hate America and disrespect” soldiers and veterans.
The documents released Wednesday include about 50 citizen calls, voicemails, emails and formal complaints submitted to the police agency about Etue.
A woman in Washington state called for Etue to be fired and characterized her public apology as “lackluster” and a “lost opportunity.” Calls came in from angry residents of Detroit, Flint, East Lansing, Ann Arbor, East Grand Rapids, Lowell, Kalamazoo and other Michigan cities.
One person left a message saying, “It’s appalling that someone in her position thinks that way about what was going on. It’s very disturbing that somebody in her role thinks that way about this peaceful protest.”
The taking of a knee during the anthem was started last year by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to draw attention to racial injustice and police brutality.
Etue shared her post on a Sunday, the same day more than 100 NFL players sat, knelt or raised their fists in defiance during the anthem after President Donald Trump had said players who protest should be fired.
The State Police social media policy allows employees to express themselves as private citizens “to the degree that their postings do not impair working relationships, impede the performance of duties, impair discipline and harmony among co-workers, or negatively affect the public perception of the department.”
It also warns workers that their internet communications may provide grounds for challenging their credibility during judicial and other proceedings.