A camera caught former police officer Richard Schoen punching citizen Jeanine Tracy. It showed him punch her in the face, drag her from the squad car in which she was handcuffed, and knee her in the stomach. The footage was a piece of evidence in the Fire and Police Commission meeting that would ultimately give Schoen his walking papers, but only after a bit of an uproar.
Initially, after their investigation and hearing, the three-member Commission decided to only suspend Schoen. This was announced at their public meeting. However, residents were present and they would not stand for the injustice. They made their voices heard, and the Commission eventually changed it’s mind.
While Tracy and others are pleased with the final decision, not everyone shares their elation.
“On behalf of the membership of the Milwaukee Police Association and the family of Officer Schoen – we are extremely disappointed in the Commission,” said MPA president Michael Crivello.
Jonathan Cermele, the attorney representing Schoen, argued that the Commission was required to stick with their initial decision, that they couldn’t bend simply because some attendees were upset. However, as for their part, the Commission says they weren’t fully informed on the legal standards by which to base their findings.
Hearing Examiner John Carter said that there should be no problem with the Commission changing it’s decision and voting again. Such actions are seen in criminal courts where judges change their rulings or overturn jury verdicts “based on the interests of justice.”
Tracy’s arrest took place in 2011 after she became disruptive following a traffic stop. The same video that shows her being punched, shows her cursing and spitting. But, her level of resistance did not meet Schoen’s chosen reaction. In other words, his use of force was entirely unjustified.
Whether the Commission changed their votes because they weren’t given all of the necessary information the first time around, or if the outcry of citizens made them realize just how serious the case was, their decision to change their mind was the right one to make.
“It’s my sincere hope that this is only the beginning of a bigger movement toward accountability and transparency in our Milwaukee Police Department,” said James Hall, president of the Milwaukee NAACP.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern, however, has decided to not bring any criminal charges against Schoen.
If you are arrested for a traffic stop, drug charges, or even domestic assault, you have rights. While it might seem like everyone is out to get you, you need an advocate in the criminal justice system. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and how we might be able to help.