FOX 11 Investigates: GB police chief plans to file new charges against officer

The Green Bay Police Department, seen March 1, 2018. (WLUK)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- The fate of a Green Bay police officer is still up in the air.

According to disciplinary charges filed with the Green Bay Police and Fire Commission and documents from the Green Bay Police Department, Officer Paul Spoerl is accused of lying during an internal investigation.

The police and fire commission has approved a request by the police chief to withdraw charges against Spoerl. However, the chief tells FOX 11 he plans to re-file the charges at a later date.

This is all related to an investigation into allegations of racial comments, harassment, and bullying by some officers on the night shift.

Earlier this week, Green Bay police released a heavily redacted report to FOX 11.

Three officers resigned before the investigation was completed. Other officers were suspended as part of the investigation.

Green Bay's police chief had initially asked the police and fire commission to fire Officer Spoerl for allegedly lying during an internal investigation. But the chief says he wanted to gather more information. That's why he says he asked the commission to allow him to withdraw the charges for now.

Officer Spoerl joined the Green Bay Police Department in September of 2015. Less than two years later, Chief Smith filed charges with the Police and Fire Commission asking the commission to fire the officer.

According to the chief, "Spoerl knowingly provided false information during the course of an internal investigation."

Spoerl was interviewed twice during the investigation.

In response to an open records request filed by FOX 11, police released a 249-page report on the investigation.

Documents show Spoerl "...initially responded by denying knowing any information, only later to reveal specific information..." When asked why he wasn't up front with his answers, the documents say Spoerl replied, "It's tough when they are friends."

In a letter, the Brown County district attorney sided with the police chief by writing " is clear to me that Officer Spoerl provided false information..." " an apparent attempt to protect his co-workers..." and "...this incident significantly limits his usefulness as a witness in criminal cases."

What exactly did Spoerl say in the interviews? We can't show you because the details of the interviews are heavily redacted in the report.

At one point, Spoerl said, "...nothing he said was an intentional lie." and that he was "Super nervous" about being questioned.

The report says Spoerl "...admitted that he should have stood up and said something about all the mocking and harassment that had been going on with the night shift, and by not doing so, he was wrong."

A review of Spoerl's squad car computer messages showed 15 messages "...that involved inappropriate content that were in violation of policy or were in poor taste."

The investigation "....revealed that he was involved in harassment or bullying of certain officers."

On July 31, 2017, Chief Smith placed Spoerl on paid-administrative leave. That was the same day Smith filed the statement of charges with the Police and Fire Commission.

In September, Smith gave Spoerl "...two days of unpaid suspension..."

Spoerl's attorney had argued that the charges should be dismissed because a hearing was not held within 30 days. But the Commission sided with Smith.

"Obviously I'm very pleased by the decision," Smith told FOX 11 after the decision was announced Thursday.

Smith says he is planning to refile the charges and add new charges. Exactly what those charges will be, Smith did not say.

According to documents from the Police and Fire Commission, In November police began investigating statements Spoerl made during a background check in 2015.

"We're going to amend the original charges that we had from last summer. Those will be amended. Additional charges will be brought and we'll put it to the police and fire commission," Smith said.

So what's next for Officer Spoerl? Chief Smith says Spoerl will remain on paid suspension until the matter is resolved. The police chief says he expects to file the new charges within the next couple weeks.

We reached out to Spoerl's attorney for comment but have not heard back. A spokesman for the Green Bay police officers' union says the union is aware of the decision but does not have a comment that this time.

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