Several Milwaukee Police officers are alleging that the Milwaukee Police Department ignored its own protocol in its handling of the arrest of Bucks rookie Sterling Brown last week.
They tell News/Talk 1130 WISN that command level staff never referred the case to the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office even though there was ample evidence to support criminal charges of resisting or obstructing an officer.
"During my time on MPD any time a person was arrested and conveyed to the County Jail, the case was always presented to the DA's Office for a charging decision," said one veteran officer. "And when the case was presented, per standard operating procedure, a case track form has to be filled out so the administration knows if a case was charged or not, and if not, why it was not charged."
Also, a report is added to the original report regarding the case being charged or not. Both are to be done immediately after presenting the case to the DA. As of today neither of those things has been done, which tells me the the case was never presented to the DA's Office."
Brown was tazed and arrested in the parking lot of a Walgreen's at S. 26th St. and W. National Ave. at about 2:00 am on January 26th. He was booked into the Milwaukee County Jail at 5:30 am and released two hours later. That night, he played in the Bucks' win over the Brooklyn Nets.
"He was combative, he made physical contact with an officer," said another law enforcement source. "The officer was absolutely justified in tazing him and [Brown] should have been charged with resisting."
But he wasn't, and now the Milwaukee Police Department has launched an internal investigation into the officer who tazed and arrested Brown.
None of the officers News/Talk 1130 WISN spoke with can recall another instance in which a Milwaukee Police officer recommended charges of obstructing/resisting and the case was never even presented to the District Attorney's Office.
According to §150.10(D)(6) of the Milwaukee Police Department's Standard Operating Procedures, Resisting an Officer cases "shall be referred to the district attorney’s office except those cases as determined by the shift commander." In a statement from Milwaukee Police Public Information Officer Timothy Gauerke on Monday, MPD indicated that "command level review of relevant reports and body camera footage indicate that Mr. Brown’s actions and behavior do not merit a criminal charge. Furthermore, the Department is reviewing the police response including supervisory oversight."
Does this include a review of the shift commander's oversight? And, more significantly, does this mean that the shift commander's recommendation of a referral to the District Attorney's Office was overruled by a superior?
According to the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office:
Once the initial investigation is concluded, a law enforcement agency will typically file a report shortly thereafter with the district attorney's office. This is typically done by having a police officer bring the case to the district attorney's office during normal business hours. In most circumstances,the district attorney's office will conduct a charging conference with an officer from the law enforcement agency present.
There is no indication that a charging conference was ever convened to discuss Brown's arrest. Since the officer who tazed and arrested Brown alleges that Brown made physical contact with him, necessitating his use of force, then why didn't the Milwaukee Police Department have an independent body such as the District Attorney's Office review the evidence and make a decision on whether or not Brown should face criminal charges?
Both Milwaukee Police Association President Mike Crivello and Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan (in whose district the incident occurred) allege that on the day Brown was arrested Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett demanded to see body camera video from the arrest and then pressured the Police Department to drop the case, a sentiment echoed by the law enforcement sources with whom News/Talk 1130 WISN spoke.
Barrett himself says he spoke with Bucks President Peter Feigin in the hours after Brown's arrest, and when Bucks spokesman Brad Baum spoke with News/Talk 1130 WISN later that afternoon, he expressed confidence that Brown would not face criminal charges and that the "matter would be resolved quickly."
On Sunday, Barrett told FOX 6 News that it was his "understanding is that no charges are going to be filed. It's also my understanding that an investigation is in place right now."
The next afternoon, the Milwaukee Police Department issued a press release indicating that it would not be recommending charges against Brown. Critically, though, the Department did not say whether the District Attorney's Office was ever consulted. Did it merely decide to drop the case quickly after pressure from the Mayor?
Crivello, Donovan, and multiple Milwaukee Police officers believe it did. The Milwaukee Police Department has thus far refused to release the arrest report or any of the officers' body camera footage of the incident, which would help clear up whether Brown was "combative" and placed his hands on an officer, as Crivello and several officers assert, or whether the arresting officer was wrong to use his TASER on Brown.
"The body camera footage will tell all," said one officer.