The Milwaukee police sergeant who threatened to tow Sterling Brown's car during a confrontation in a Walgreen's parking lot in January 2018 admitted in a deposition that he had no legal basis to make such a threat, according to Federal Court records.
"I'm talking about when you're talking to Mr. Brown unprofessionally – using your words – and you told him, 'Let's tow the car,' you had no basis to tow the car at that point in time. Correct?" attorney Mark Thomsen asked.
"That's correct," Sgt. Jeffrey Krueger responded during his May deposition.
Krueger also admitted he failed in his supervisory duties when he arrived at the scene and did not bother to learn what was happening before injecting himself into the situation.
"As a supervisor, I failed to do – one of my duties was to figure out what was going on beforehand," he testified.
Krueger, a 13-year-veteran, also said he was not aware of any Milwaukee police officers being disciplined during that time for excessive use of force or racist conduct.
Krueger arrived at Walgreen's after Brown, a Milwaukee Bucks player, was detained in a Walgreen's parking lot after he parked illegally in a handicapped space at about 2 a.m. Brown eventually was confronted by several officers, including Krueger, and was taken to the ground, tased, stepped on, and arrested.
After the incident, in a squad car and after Brown was recognized as an athlete, Krueger was caught on a body camera saying, "We are trying to protect ourselves."
He did not know the camera was on when he made the statement.
Krueger eventually was suspended for 10 days for failing to be a role model for professional police service.
Brown has filed a lawsuit alleging the officers violated his constitutional rights and his lawyer, Mark Thomsen, has filed several deposition excerpts in the case. WJI is publishing some of the excerpts.
Read previous posts, with transcripts, about Officers Joseph J. Grams and Bojan Samardzic.
The City of Milwaukee and other defendants have denied violating Brown's rights.
Assistant City Attorney Naomi Gehling objected repeatedly to Thomsen's questions during Krueger's deposition. WJI is omitting those objections for ease of reading, but they are part of the full transcript here.
After Brown's arrest, officers involved, including Krueger, were ordered to undergo remedial training, which included watching video of the incident and discussing what went wrong.
Thomsen: What were the officers told went wrong?
Krueger: It was about professional communication.
Thomsen: So what about professional communication was wrong?
Krueger: There was many examples where it wasn't used in this incident.
Thomsen: Okay. Tell the jury what all those examples are....
Krueger: Officer (Joseph J.) Grams – how he spoke to Mr. Brown.
Thomsen: Okay. What else?
Krueger: How my discussion with Mr. Brown went.
Thomsen: So what was wrong with your discussion with Mr. Brown?
Krueger: It wasn't very professional....I became frustrated, and that caused me to say,
like, "You know, you're bothering me." So –
Thomsen: What else?...
Krueger: I just – I think the overall demeanor that I had, we talked about that.
Thomsen: What about your overall demeanor was inappropriate, sir?
Krueger: It wasn't – my overall – Well, my demeanor was not professional.
Thomsen: In what way, sir?
Krueger: Well, how I talked to him.
Thomsen: And please explain to the jury the details of that.
Krueger: Well, I told him he was bothering me, and that's the biggest one that sticks out to me.
Thomsen: You threatened to tow his truck – I mean tow his car.
Thomsen: I'm talking about when you're talking to Mr. Brown unprofessionally – using your words – and you told him, "Let's tow the car," you had no basis to tow the car at that point in time. Correct?
Krueger: That's correct.
By Margo Kirchner
Overturning 14 years of case law, the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently expanded law enforcement’s right to use single-person showups rather than multi-person lineups when seeking identification of suspects.
The court ruled that a criminal defendant bears an initial burden of demonstrating that the procedure was impermissibly suggestive.
The court also criticized the use of social science in the law.
Social science, Chief Justice Patience Drake Roggensack wrote for the court, “has been used by courts as an excuse to justify disturbing decisions” such as Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld racial segregation. At heart, though, she wrote, “[s]ocial science cannot change the original meaning of the Wisconsin Constitution.”
Show-ups have long been controversial. The U.S. Supreme Court, while declining to ban the practice outright, acknowledged in 1967 that “[t]he practice of showing suspects singly to persons for the purpose of identification, and not as part of a lineup, has been widely condemned."
Since 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court had placed an initial burden on the prosecution to establish that the showup was necessary. If the state failed to show necessity, the showup evidence was excluded.
The Supreme Court adopted the necessity requirement in State v. Dubose, finding that the state constitution provided more protection than the U.S. Constitution did when it came to identifications. Under the U.S. Constitution, evidence of showups can be barred from trial as a violation of due process when a defendant shows that the identification procedure was unnecessarily suggestive and the prosecution fails to establish that the identification was nevertheless reliable.
To determine reliability, a court considers factors such as the witness’ opportunity to view the suspect at the time of the crime, the witness’ degree of attention, accuracy of the witness’ description of the suspect, the level of certainty demonstrated by the witness at the time of identification, and the passage of time between the crime and the identification.
This month’s Roberson case returned Wisconsin to the federal test by overruling Dubose.
Roggensack, in her decision, opined that Dubose was “unsound in principle as it was based on misunderstanding the United States Supreme Court’s decisions in regard to out-of-court identifications and on topical social science.”
The Wisconsin Justice Initiative and several voters and taxpayers filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking a judge to block submission of the proposed "Marsy's Law" constitutional amendment to voters or to require the ballot question to be rewritten so it reflects the sweeping changes the amendment would make in state law.
The April 7 ballot question is deceptive, a threat to people's right to a fair trial, and should be withdrawn, according to WJI. The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign applauded the legal challenge.
Check out our Marsy's Flaws page.
“Voters are being asked to vote on a single sentence that doesn’t remotely begin to describe what Marsy’s Law is and what it does,’’ said Craig Johnson, board president of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative as well as an individual plaintiff.
“It may sound reasonable," he said. "But the question masks a proposed amendment twice the length of the U.S. Bill of Rights. It expands who is considered a ‘victim’ under the Constitution, adds or expands 16 categories of victims’ rights, and will make it difficult for the falsely accused to receive a fair trial in this state.’’
“The amendment would create a whole new category of constitutional victims,’’ Johnson said. “Supporters say this amendment levels the playing field for victims. It does the opposite. It stacks the deck against the accused, making it difficult to receive a fair trial in this state at incalculable new costs to taxpayers.’’
The lawsuit was filed in Dane County Circuit Court. Plaintiffs, besides WJI and Johnson, include attorney and WJI Board member Jacqueline Boynton, attorney Jerome Buting, and State Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison).
Read the lawsuit, the request for a temporary injunction, and the brief.
“Wisconsin led the nation by adopting a ‘crime victim bill of rights,’ and our state constitution and statutes already spell out those rights,” said Chris Ott, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin.
"In Wisconsin, we already consult and protect the rights of victims during criminal proceedings," he said. This deceptive amendment threatens to force people into our already clogged criminal justice system by undermining the fundamental concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ Wisconsin’s rate of incarceration already makes us a nationwide outlier, and this proposed amendment will add to the staggering human and financial costs of mass incarceration. We either need to stop this amendment, or make clear to voters what it would really do.’’
Taxpayer costs escalated in states that adopted Marsy’s Law, while law enforcement is finding it more difficult to investigate crimes, according to the Wisconsin Justice Initiative and its allies. That’s why, after only two years, South Dakota was forced to re-do its Marsy’s Law. Other states have struck Marsy’s Law ballot questions until they can be rewritten to accurately reflect what the proposed amendments do.
The state’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau has no cost analysis of Marsy’s Law because it is not legislation. If approved in April by voters, it will become a permanent part of the Wisconsin State Constitution.
Updated Dec. 14, 2019 with Griselda Aldrete's response
By Gretchen Schuldt
Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission Executive Director Griselda Aldrete on two separate documents falsely stated what and when she taught at the Milwaukee Area Technical College.
Aldrete said on a full resume and a separate teaching resume that she taught criminal justice at the school, which she did not. She also said she taught there more recently than she actually did.
Employee Relations Director Maria Monteagudo acknowledged a "discrepancy" in Aldrete's resume, adding "A correction to her resume will be made by Ms. Aldrete for the record."
"This information does not change Ms Aldrete's qualifications for the Executive Director position," Monteagudo wrote in an email.
Aldrete's short tenure already has been controversial – she was confirmed in her job in July – marked by staff turnover that some see as necessary and others see and deeper management problems.
"I try to live life by the simple credo: “trust, truth and transparency,” Aldrete said during her confirmation hearing, according to written testimony.
Asked why gave incorrect information to the city, Adrete said, "From your line of questioning, you’re implying that this was done purposely on my resume. With all due respect, this is my resume and I know it well. As any professional in the workforce knows, when regularly adding new experience and jobs you must also update dates and times. There was nothing done here intentionally or to 'trick' anyone."
"What's important is: Did I work there? Yes. Did I teach? Yes? " she wrote in an email.
She said she had a master's degree and is an attorney.
"I’ve dedicated my career to helping people and strengthening communities in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin," she wrote.
Aldrete stated on the main resume she submitted to the city that she taught "Introduction of Criminal Justice" at MATC from 2009 to 2012.
She actually taught at the school part-time from November 2004 to December 2005 and never taught a course there related at all to criminal justice.
Rather, she taught mostly short basic education courses – basic communications, career exploration, and computer basics. Her class schedule is here.
The "teaching resume" also includes criminal-justice related teaching at MATC. The teaching resume does not contain specific dates, but lists a variety of courses Aldrete says she taught at Bryant & Stratton, Concordia College (now Concordia University), MATC, and Marquette University from 2008 to the time the resume was submitted. The teaching resume does not specify when or where she taught the individual classes.
Monteagudo did not respond to follow-up questions by late Friday afternoon concerning why why the city did not discover the incorrect information before WJI asked about it.
Aldrete said she did not think the issue would hurt her credibility.
"Absolutely not," she wrote. "What is hurting this Commission and the credibility of this office, and the many dedicated civil servants working here day-in and day-out, is the many attempts to unnecessarily discredit me, the FPC, or our employees. I have committed my professional life to helping the people of Milwaukee be successful and get help whenever needed. As mentioned above."
Sitting in a car at night not enough for police stop, appeals judge rules; Wood County trips over itself
By Gretchen Schuldt
Simply being in a car parked in a "24/7" boat landing parking lot does not provide police reasonable cause to question the occupants of the car, a state appeals judge ruled Thursday.
In addition, Wood County failed to show that Sheriff's Deputy Nathan Dean was acting in a community caretaker role when he approached the car, District IV Court of Appeals Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg said.
Kloppenburg upheld Wood County Circuit Judge Nicholas Brazeau Jr., suppressing in a drunk driving case evidence obtained by Wood County Sheriff’s Deputy Nathan Dean.
Dean saw nothing illegal and nothing suspicious before he approached the parked car to question to the two adults inside.
"The vehicle was not running, the lights were not on, and the hood was closed....The officer saw no indication that the persons were in distress," Kloppenburg wrote.
After Dean talked to the two, he cited one of them, Trevor Krizan, for first-offense drunk driving. Krizan, Dean testified, had glassy eyes and slurred his speech a few times when they talked.
Wood County argued for the first time on appeal that Krizan was never actually "seized," and so the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizures did not apply.
Lawyers generally are not allowed to raise an issue for the first time on appeal. Wood County not only did that; it directly contradicted in its appeal what it said in Circuit Court, according to Kloppenburg's decision.
There, the county argued that Dean was acting in his "community caretaker" role, which would allows exceptions to Fourth Amendment requirements when officers are acting as caretakers, rather than as crime investigators.
But a legitimate community caretaking function requires the occurrence of a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, Kloppenburg wrote.
In short, Wood County tried to deny on appeal what it embraced in Circuit Court.
"Evers' judges" is our effort to present information about Gov. Tony Evers' appointees to the bench. The information is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications. WJI also will continue to profile former Gov. Scott Walker's appointees who are still in office.
Name: M. Joseph Donald
Appointed to: District 1 Court of Appeals
Appointment date: Sept. 4, 2019. (Election scheduled for April 2020)
Law School – Marquette University Law School
Undergraduate – Marquette University
High School – Shorewood High School
St. Lawrence Seminary
Recent legal employment:
1996 - present – Milwaukee County circuit judge
Bar and Administrative Memberships:
Wisconsin State Courts
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
General character of practice before becoming a judge: Worked as a Milwaukee assistant city attorney from 1989 to 1996, handling tax foreclosures, bankruptcies, property tax assessments, unemployment compensation and ordinance violations. Also handled disciplinary hearings before the Fire and Police Commission.
Describe typical clients: Represented various city department heads and city employees, including those in the Treasure's Office, the Department of City Development, the City Assessor's Office and the Fire and Police Departments. Represented the city in prosecuting people in Municipal and Circuit Court.
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: Seven as city attorney
List up to five cases in which you participated as a judge or lawyer in the past seven years:
State v. Johnnie J. – I presided over the jury trial and dispositional hearing, and entered orders terminating Johnnie's parental rights to her children.
State v. Antonio Smith – I presided over the jury trial and sentencing of defendant Smith on multiple counts of first degree intentional homicide and conspiracy to commit homicide.
State v. Mickey Miller – I presided over the jury trial and motion to dismiss the armed robbery and false imprisonment charges.
State v. Bailey – I presided over the multiple count jury trial and motions that resulted in a conviction of guilty on felon in possession of a firearm and acquittal on others.
State v. Akim Brown – I presided over the post-conviction motion.
Experience in adversary proceedings before administrative bodies.
Throughout my career as a Milwaukee City Attorney, I was involved in many administrative proceedings, which included The Board of Review for tax assessments; State of Wisconsin Unemployment Compensation Proceedings; and the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission.
My most notable administrative proceeding took place in 1991 before the Fire and Police Commission and involved the disciplinary proceedings of Milwaukee Police Officers John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish for failing to properly investigate serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and one of his victims.
Konerak Sinthasomphone was a 14-year-old Laotian immigrant, who had escaped Dahmer's apartment and ran out into the neighborhood. Bystanders called police. When Officers Balcerzak and Gabrish arrived on the scene, Sinthasomphone was disoriented, naked and bleeding.
Dahmer managed to convince the officers that Sinthasomphone was his 19-year-old gay lover. Without investigating the circumstances further, the officers returned the boy to Dahmer's custody, inside Dahmer's apartment.
Meanwhile, three African-American women were also on the scene when Sinthasomphone escaped and tried to convince the officers that something was wrong.
What made this case so noteworthy was the pretrial evidentiary rulings with respect to what evidence was available for use. For example, there were hundreds of photographs of Dahmer's apartment; recordings of the officers' radio transmissions; employment histories of the police officers; and the police department's internal affairs investigation reports.
Marquette Law Professor Dan Blinka was the hearing examiner and set a very aggressive scheduling order for these pretrial issues to be resolved. At the same time, there was community pressure on the commission from the Mayor John Norquist's office, the Milwaukee Police Association and the public at large.
Previous runs for political office: Successful campaigns for Circuit Court in 1997, 2003, 2009, 2015; unsuccessful run for Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2016.
Position or involvement in judicial, non-partisan, or partisan political campaign, committee, or organization:
Donated $20 to State Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee) in 2015.
All judicial or non-partisan candidates endorsed in the last six years:
It has been my practice to endorse incumbent judges or judicial candidates who would bring diversity to the bench.
(Note - Donald did not provide requested information, which includes each endorsed candidate's name, office sought, and year of endorsement.)
Professional or civic and charitable organizations:
Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, Board member, 2014 to present
Milwaukee County Historical Society, Board member, 2017 to present
Urban Day School, Board member, 2000 to present
American Constitution Society, member, 2016 to present
Milwaukee Bar Association, 1996 to present
State Bar of Wisconsin, member, 1988 to present
Milwaukee Area Technical College, Board member, 1990 to 1994
Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Board member, 2000 to 2005
Harambee Community School, Board member, 1996 to 2000
Marquette Law School Alumni Board, Board member/president, 2003 to 2007
Juvenile Corrections Study Committee, member, July, 2018 to October, 2018
Mother of Good Counsel Parish, Board member, 1996 to 2000
Next Act Theater, Board member, 1993 to 1996
Race, Equity, and Procedural Justice, member, 2014 to present
Department of Children and Families, Advisory Committee member, 2018 to present
State Bar of Wisconsin, Mass/Disparate Incarceration Committee, 2018 to present
State Supreme Court, Policy and Planning Committee, 2015 to present
American Cancer Society, Ambassador board member, 2015 to 2016
Elected or appointed public offices:
Milwaukee Area Technical College Board, 1991 to 1994 – elected by Board.
Milwaukee Housing Authority, 2014 to present – appointed by Common Council
Significant pro bono legal work or volunteer service:
Involvement in business interests:
Board member, Travaux Inc., real estate development (Milwaukee Housing Authority). I am prepared to resign from Travaux.
Why I want to be a judge –
I want to serve the people of Wisconsin as a Court of Appeals Judge because I want to ensure that our courts are fair, impartial and free from the influence of special interests and politics. If our courts become too closely aligned with our legislative and executive branches, citizens can become victims of the system.
During my 23 years as a circuit judge, I have observed significant changes in our approaches to addressing crime, and I believe some of these changes were influenced by political policy and special interests.
By Gretchen Schuldt
African Americans were defendants in 21% of criminal marijuana cases filed in Wisconsin circuit courts last year while accounting for just 7% of the state's population, a Wisconsin Justice Initiative / American Constitution Society analysis shows.
The analysis included cannabis cases filed in each of the state's 72 counties.
The figures demonstrate "that marijuana prosecutions impact more heavily on the African American population," even though African Americans and Whites use marijuana at about the same rates, WJI President Craig Johnson said.
The disparity "clearly points to another reason for legalizing it," he said.
There were 8,697 Circuit Court cases that included misdemeanor or felony cannabis charges, the analysis shows, and African Americans were defendants in 1,846 of those cases.
Whites, who account for 87% of the state's population, made up just 66% of defendants in marijuana cases, figures show. Whites were defendants in 5,776 cases.
American Indians / Alaska Natives also were over-represented among those facing cannabis charges. Members of that ethnic group account for about 1% of the state's population, but 5% of cannabis defendants.
Hispanics and Asians were under-represented in marijuana cases. Hispanics make up 7 percent of the state's population and were defendants in 3% of cannabis cases, and Asians accounted for 3% of the population and 1% of cannabis defendants.
The analysis also shows that the filing rate of criminal cases varies widely across the state. In Waushara County, for example, one cannabis case was filed for every 120 county residents, the highest rate in the state; in Dane County, one case was filed for every 4,339 residents, the lowest filing rate statewide. It was followed by Milwaukee County, where one cannabis case was filed for every 3,292 residents.
The Black/White racial disparities in those latter two counties, however, were bigger than in any of the other 70 counties in the state.
More information available on our 2019 Pot Page.
In Dane County, African Americans account for just 5% of the population but were 68% (85 of 125) of cannabis defendants, for a disparity of 63 percentage points, the largest in the state.
In Milwaukee County, 27% of residents are African-American, but Blacks accounted for 85% – (244 out of 288) – of cannabis case defendants, a gap of 58 percentage points, the state's second highest.
Those figures, Johnson said, shows that cannabis "is kind of the drug of the privileged."
There are some areas, he said, "where marijuana has sort of de facto legalization." Those areas are generally whiter, wealthier and more liberal, he said.
"My gut feeling is your over-policed communities end up with more charges," he said. "So we have unequal protection under the law."
The analysis also showed that 75% of the defendants in cannabis cases statewide were men. Milwaukee had the largest share of male defendants at 95%, followed by Dane and Jefferson counties. Some 90% of cannabis defendants in each of those counties were men.
The cases included in the analysis were those with some sort of marijuana charge, whether felony or misdemeanor. WJI counted cases filed with misdemeanor marijuana charges as misdemeanors and those with felony marijuana charges as felonies.
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