A Minneapolis police sergeant who was the subject of a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination was demoted for creating a hostile workplace and violating anti-discrimination and harassment policies before he left the department, newly released records show.
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo “permanently demoted” Andrew Stender from sergeant, a supervisory rank, to officer in May 2020, according to the disciplinary record recently published to the city website. Stender, who had been with MPD since 1992, left the department in February of this year.
In October 2021, the city agreed to pay him $195,000 over the course of four years to settle a workers’ compensation claim.
The discipline came nearly 2½ years after the Office of Police Conduct Review initiated an investigation and five months after the City Council approved a $255,000 settlement for an officer who alleged that Stender harassed her when he was a supervisor in the department’s K-9 unit. Her lawsuit argued that he discriminated against women.
Stender’s is among several demotions made under Arradondo, though they are not all reflected in the disciplinary decisions published online.
The Police Department did not respond to questions from the Star Tribune.
“Supervisors are given great responsibility and authority and as such are held to a higher standard,” the chief wrote in the memo explaining his decision. “They are to lead by example. Sergeant Stender failed in this regard.”
The chief outlined several examples of Stender falling short of expectations, such as treating another employee unfairly, showing favoritism, interfering with another employee’s professional development and “exhibiting mental harassment.”
Arradondo said Stender intimidated another employee and denied one employee opportunities. Stender used his rank to harass and retaliate against others, the chief said.
Specific employee names are redacted in the memo, but the examples resemble allegations made by officer Yvonne “Bonnie” Edwards in the lawsuit that led to the $255,000 settlement. Edwards left the department in January 2020.
In the complaint, Edwards alleged Stender showed women in the K-9 unit favoritism if they engaged in sexual relations with him. She said Stender retaliated against officers who filed complaints against him and that he followed her around in his squad car.
The chief’s memo said Stender was ordered not to contact a person whose name was redacted, but that he contacted them anyway.
“A limited suspension or temporary demotion will not change the behavior of Sergeant Stender or the hostile workplace environment he created,” Arradondo said. “By making the decision to permanently demote Sergeant Stender I’m reaffirming the importance of the leadership role of a Minneapolis Police Sergeant.”
Besides his role in the K-9 unit, Stender also served on the MPD SWAT team. He was one of the officers who followed 22-year-old Terrance Franklin into the basement of an Uptown home, where two other SWAT officers shot Franklin 10 times. A grand jury did not indict any of those officers. However, Stender and two other officers have retained attorneys and two of them are in talks with Hennepin County prosecutors over immunity from potential charges in exchange for new information about what happened that day, according to sources.
During his MPD career, Stender was investigated for misconduct 18 times, according to the officer complaint history dashboard. Besides the demotion, the only other discipline he received was a letter of reprimand. The dashboard does not yet reflect the fact that he was demoted.
Stender could not be reached Wednesday. The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis did not respond to inquiries.