Green Bay Police have cleared Officer Derek Wicklund in an internal investigation into his use of force in an arrest in April.
The department released the details in a news conference Tuesday morning. Police say Wicklund has been exonerated, which means he followed the appropriate department policies and procedures and did not use excessive force during the arrest.
"His actions and use of force were in compliance with our department policy and his training and experience," Green Bay Police Chief Tom Molitor said.
Police began an internal investigation after cell phone video of an arrest of Joshua Wenzel outside a downtown Green Bay bar April 19th went viral. In it, you can see Wicklund pushing Wenzel into a squad car, tackling him to the ground and hitting him twice while detaining him.
Police launched an internal investigation in April and Tuesday released their findings in an 80-plus page report, including multiple witness statements and interviews.
"There were too many presumptions made too early in this," Lt. Chad Ramos said with the department. "Unfortunately within a short period of time people had their minds made up."
According to the report, "Officer Wicklund said the tone of (Wenzel's) voice escalated and he kind of circled around and got behind Officer Conley where Officer Conley could not see him. He said that (Wenzel) was yelling obscenities and displayed pre-attack postures. Officer Wicklund said that (Wenzel) was puffing out his chest, moving his arms, displaying excessive emotional attention."
There are also addendums to the report. The department says there are lessons that can be learned in any case and they are constantly re-evaluating their responses. Police say they have done a very critical self-evaluation through the whole process and will recommend some changes and improvements to be handled in training department-wide. That will include better crowd control and communications skills between officers and the general public.
Police showed several videos not made public until today. They show the incident, in its entirety, from different angles. The videos are from surveillance cameras and the dash cam from a squad car. Police say that helped them look at the entire incident, not just a small portion of what happened. Police say they were able to see the entire confrontation before the arrest, which they say puts in context Wicklund's reaction during the arrest.
"The investigation we put together I can assure you was very thorough," Ramos said. "I challenge anyone to look at that and ask for a different angle we could have taken."
Police also referred to the Supreme Court case Graham v. Connor, which outlines what a police officer considers reasonable force. The Wisconsin Department of Justice Training and Standards Bureau also reviewed Wicklund's arrest tactics and found them to be within recommended standards.
"We have the ability, we have the people," Ramos said, defending the report's outcome. "And quite frankly once you look at everything that has been done, I think you will see and understand it's a credible agency that was putting together a transparent investigation."
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