Historically, the Milwaukee Police Department is no stranger to repeat complaints against its officers for different forms of police brutality and misconduct. A recent incident involving Rafael Rosales who sped away from a traffic stop in Milwaukee leading police in a car chase that ended up with a kick to his head causing a broken nose and an epileptic seizure has yielded a civil rights law suit against the department. The excessive force gesture was initiated after he had already been subdued and was in handcuffs. The Milwaukee police officer and the other police that were at the scene are being charged due to the encounter that occurred in 2017. Officer Michael L. Gasser was charged, convicted and sentenced within two days for his involvement in the activities that led to the excessive force complaint from Mr. Rosales. He worked with the Milwaukee Police Department for ten years and pled guilty to one count of battery and two counts of disorderly conduct but had to resign as part of this plea deal. He was sentenced to minimal jail time of 14 days (time actually served would be at the discretion of his probation officer), work release and 18 months of probation. The other police officers are parties to the latest suit. Milwaukee has a record of brutality claims that were covered up in the past including illegal search activities by a police officer who had claims of sexual assault placed against him for illegal strip searches. Officer Gasser also had claims against him for illegal searches in 2015 revealing a lengthy timeline of brutality actions.
Negative Publicity Causes Positive Change.
These, and other heavily publicized cases caused much distrust in the communities and the fallout led to changes and updates to Milwaukee Police Department Policies on Use of Force incidents, and the rights of victims. Policy 460, Policy 710, and Policy 453 outline the procedures regarding the proper use of force, victims rights, and actions related to deadly force by an officer or critical incident. These policies are guidelines to fair and impartial reviews of use of force incidents to determine if police action was justified in efforts to maintain community safety from criminal activity, trust and confidence in the police.
Policy 460.10 Reasonable Force.
The use of force by a police officer must be objectively reasonable. Police should use only the force necessary to effectively maintain control of a situation and protect the safety of police members and the public. Objective reasonableness is judged from the perspective of a reasonable police member facing similar circumstances and is based on the totality of the facts known to the police member at the time the force was applied, along with the member’s prior training and experience, without regard to the underlying intent or motivation of the police member.
Policy 710.05 Victims Rights.
It is the policy of the Milwaukee Police Department that all members, as mandated by the state of Wisconsin Basic Bill of Rights for Victims and Witnesses, Wis. Stat. § 950.04, treat all victims and witnesses of crime with fairness, dignity, respect, courtesy, and sensitivity and in accordance with the Milwaukee Police Department Code of Conduct (5.00 Respect). As first responders, law enforcement personnel provide care and support to victims of crime as required by state and federal laws.
Policy 453.05 Deadly Force or Critical Incident.
An officer-involved death is an incident that involves, “A death of an individual that results directly from an action or an omission of a law enforcement officer while the law enforcement officer is on duty or while the law enforcement officer is off duty but performing activities that are within the scope of his or her law enforcement duties.” Wis. Stat. § 175.47(1)(c).
A critical incident is an encounter involving a department member that results in death or great bodily harm to a person that is caused by a member’s actions, occurs while in police custody, or any incident that the chief of police or his/her designee (must be assistant chief or inspector rank) declare a critical incident.
The Milwaukee Police Department strives to make the department as accessible as possible to the community by publishing the Standard Operating Procedures on its website. These procedures provide direction to all police personnel in a variety of community situations, as they carry out the mission of the Milwaukee Police Department. Public access to these guidelines ensures transparency regarding operations and expectations within the department and is beneficial to rebuilding community trust.
File a Complaint.
If you believe that an officer of the Milwaukee Police Department has violated a department code of conduct, a federal or state law, an ordinance of the City of Milwaukee, or are dissatisfied with a policy or procedure of the Milwaukee Police Department, you may file a complaint. A citizen or agent, such as: an attorney, a parent or a translator of a non-English speaking citizen can file a complaint at the police district, bureau or division:
- By going to a district station;
- By calling the department and asking for a supervisor to meet with you;
- By calling the Internal Affairs Division at (414) 935-7942;
- With the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission; or
- By downloading the Citizen Complaint Form, which is available in English, Hmong, and Spanish. You may return the completed Citizen Complaint Form to any Milwaukee Police Department district station or mail it to the following address:
Milwaukee Police Department
Internal Affairs Division
6680 North Teutonia Avenue Room 325
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53209
Contact a Lawyer.
If you believe you are, or someone you know is, a victim of policy brutality violating any of your civil rights, contact an attorney to help you with your cause of action to seek damages to which you are entitled under various state and federal laws.