And investigating Sgts opinion of excessive force initially ignored by IA.......
DISCLAIMER: The Milwaukee PD has had some real issues with conduct.......but in every interaction I have had with them, both on my own time and working in the field, I was polite, and they were professional.......
JS ONLINE: NEWS: MILWAUKEE: E-MAIL | PRINT
Police conduct can't be kept quiet
Judge makes details of '03 shooting death public
By GINA BARTON
Posted: Mar. 18, 2006
After the Journal Sentinel and at least one television station reported information about police brutality culled from depositions in a civil case, the Milwaukee city attorney's office unsuccessfully asked a federal judge to shroud similar information in secrecy.
Justin Fields was driving away from officer when he was shot in the back.
5/27/05: McCann defends prosecutor's role in 2003 inquest
5/26/05: Excessive force report ignored
5/22/05: Police agencies differ on whether a car is a weapon
5/21/05: Inquests aim to reveal truth in death
12/29/03: Family claims police condoned excessive force
11/3/03: NAACP wants state review of shooting
10/9/03: 3 officers cleared in fatal shootings of motorists
9/19/03: McCann to announce decision on charges in police shootings
7/11/03: Jurors call shooting by officer justified
7/10/03: Officer says car slid his way before shooting
7/9/03: Witness testifies in shooting by officer
7/8/03: Case comes down to officer's fear for his safety, prosecutor says
3/7/03: McCann wants all details before possible charges
3/5/03: Fields recalled as gentle, dedicated to his studies
3/4/03: Witnesses say man angered police
3/2/03: Officer fired because he thought car would hit him, statement says
Early this month, U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller denied the request, rendering public documents that discuss the internal police investigation into the 2003 shooting of Justin Fields.
Photographs of Fields and of the Milwaukee police officer who fatally shot him, Craig Nawotka, also may be made part of the public record in the lawsuit Fields' family filed against the city, the judge ruled.
Fields was black. Nawotka is white. In depositions, two officers said race may have played a role in the death of Fields, who was 21 when he died.
The Milwaukee police sergeant who investigated the shooting said his findings - that Nawotka's actions constituted excessive force and that Fields "did not have to die" - were ignored by his superiors in the department's internal affairs division.
The Journal Sentinel reported the contents of those depositions in front-page articles published in May.
As a result, Assistant City Attorney Susan E. Lappen asked the judge to expand a previously agreed-upon confidentiality order in the case.
The parties already had agreed to keep secret some personnel files and internal investigatory documents involved in the litigation. Lappen wanted even stricter confidentiality, preventing the public from reading depositions and affidavits that mention those records.
"The public does not have a right to know about the information gleaned from such investigations," Lappen wrote.
Releasing such information would violate the privacy of both officer and victim as well as poison the potential jury pool, she argued in court documents.
The public release of the materials also "could adversely affect the internal investigatory processes of the Milwaukee Police Department; the likelihood of witnesses . . . to come forward with evidence or information; the employer/employee relationship; and the professional reputation of (department employees) who review the investigatory materials," she wrote.
Mark Thomsen, attorney for the Fields family, countered in a brief, "Confidentiality here would conceal the truth and thwart the public's significant interest in ensuring that police remain their protectors and not their persecutors."
Thomsen also cited several court rulings in previous cases, including one by a federal court in Illinois that reads: "there is an important public interest at stake - the health and welfare of the general public and the integrity of the police department. The public has a right to know how matters concerning their daily protection are being investigated and handled."
And another from the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals: "It would be difficult to find a matter of greater public concern in a large metropolitan area than police protection and public safety."
Stadtmueller ruled against Lappen because she failed to adequately support the city's point of view.
"The court denies the motion as a matter of course," Stadtmueller wrote. " . . . The defendants may have stated their position . . . but the defendants altogether neglect to set forth a legal basis for their motion."
Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, which advocates public access to meetings and records, said Stadtmueller's ruling was correct .
"The public has a clear and undeniable interest in knowing whether police officers are abusing their authority and whether their superiors are responding appropriately," he said. "I think the citizens of Milwaukee should be a bit embarrassed, if not angered, to see their city attorney's office argue that they do not have a right to know when police officers engage in alleged misconduct and when police officials allegedly ignore findings to this effect."
Wisconsin... a great place to be from.
Well before this one gets locked I want to be the first to chime in with "BLUEWALL"!!!!!
According to the media, while trying to arrest a suspect, cop is up alongside the car roughly in the driver's front quadrant. Suspect panics, floors it and takes off. As he is going by the officer, officer scrambles out of the way, and shoots him on the way by. A MPD Sgt. who investigated concluded it was probably unjustified use of lethal force, but apparently the administration walled it off.
I don't trust any of the media accounts, but I find it interesting that the city is trying very hard to limit the release of information.
You trust the cops explanation? Ever heard of a bad cop shooting from the cops. To them all shootings are justified because they are cops, even guys shot in the BACK
Have they sent it to a grand jury to let them decide if charges should be brought?
Impossible, as WI is a blue state, no?????