The city of Portland, Oregon, agreed to pay $5,000 to an alleged Nazi-sympathizing police officer and erase two disciplinary actions as part of a legal settlement.
Capt. Mark Kruger had been suspended for his public tribute to five Nazi-era Germany soldiers at a city park and reprimanded for retaliating against a female police lieutenant.
But his attorney argued that the city and the police bureau’s director of services, Mike Kuykendall, slandered Kruger in a series of text messages referring to the officer as a Nazi.
Kruger, who is now in charge of the police department’s Drugs and Vice Division, sued the city in January 2013.
Kuykendall resigned after the lawsuit was filed, and the city denied the validity of Kruger’s claim.
But city officials said they wanted to bring all potential claims by Kruger to a close and agreed to settle with the officer, reported The Oregonian.
The city agreed to pay him back for the 80 hours he was suspended in 2010 for nailing memorial plaques to the Nazi soldiers to a tree about 10 years earlier in Rocky Butte Park.
Kruger was a Portland police officer at the time, but he wasn’t on duty.
His commander at the time said he was “deeply concerned” about the plaques, which purportedly honored SS-Obersturmfuhrer Michael Wittman, a member of the Waffen SS, and Kdr. Harald von Hirschfeld, who commanded a regiment that participated in the execution of thousands of prisoners of war in 1943 in Greece.
A disciplinary letter claiming Kruger had brought “discredit and disgrace upon the Bureau and the City” will be removed from his personnel file.
The police chief also agreed to provide a three-paragraph letter praising Kruger for his police work.
“I am writing to affirm that I consider you to be a competent and valuable member of the Portland Police Bureau,” reads the letter from Police Chief Mike Reese. “Your skills and talents as a Critical Incident Commander and ability to connect with the community are outstanding. As well, your work with the immigrant community has strengthened our relationship with new Portlanders.”
Kruger said through his attorney that his record now “reflects the high quality of work serving the citizens of Portland.”
Internal affairs launched an investigation of Kruger and the plaques under pressure after a former friend of the officer filed a complaint.
The investigation found Kruger took the plaques down between 2002 and 2005 after anti-war protesters filed federal lawsuits against him alleging he used excessive force.
Then-Chief Mark Kroeker apologized for the officer’s actions after video footage showed a smiling Kruger spray chemical irritant into a TV news camerawoman’s face.
Kruger gave the plaques to the city attorney’s office, which hid them for years and fought against turning them over during the federal excessive force case.
Another former friend of Kruger’s contacted the plaintiffs’ attorney after seeing the video footage and recounted how the officer and another friend collected Nazi memorabilia and “displayed a hatred of gays, Jews, and racial minorities,” reported Willamette Week.
The former friend said the three of them used to drive around Portland in the early 1980s “listening to Hitler’s speeches and yelling racist and homophobic comments to people who were on the sidewalk.”
He also said they spray-painted Nazi graffiti, such as “Heil Hitler” and “SS rules,” on Rocky Butte that was visible as recently as 10 years ago.
Kruger later admitted to wearing Nazi uniforms as a history buff but denied holding racist or Nazi beliefs.
The plaintiffs’ attorney was shocked by the terms agreed to by the city in the recent settlement.
“That’s sick, sick,” said attorney Alan Graff, who represented the anti-war protesters. “It’s unbelievable. The only conclusion that I can come to is that Kruger has dirt on some of the people in power, and they’re afraid of him. The City of Portland should be ashamed of itself.”
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