Milwaukee officers quit amid use-of-force allegations

Police lights file graphic.
Police lights file graphic.(Gray News)
Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 11:42 AM CDT
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MILWAUKEE (AP) - Two police officers in Milwaukee accused of punching a homeless man have resigned rather than face termination.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday that Eric Ratzmann and Eric Fjeld quit on Aug. 5 rather than be fired. Both officers faced allegations that they used excessive force, although prosecutors said their actions didn’t rise to criminal wrongdoing.

The Journal Sentinel reported the officers were responding to a report that the man had robbed a restaurant patron on June 30. The newspaper obtained the officers' body camera footage, which shows they took the homeless man to the ground before handcuffing him. The man spat on Ratzmann, who responded by grabbing the man’s hair and pushing him into the officers' squad car.

The man later spat on Fjeld, who punched him. The officers decided to drop the man off elsewhere in the city. When they tried to leave him in an alley behind a gas station, the man said he didn’t know where he was and spat at Ratzmann, who slammed the man’s head into the squad’s roof and twisted his arm.

Milwaukee County Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern said the officers' actions didn’t warrant criminal charges, saying they were justified in using some force to prevent the man from spitting on them.

Internal affairs investigators, however, determined the officers failed to investigate the situation, didn’t notify a supervisor about their use of force and didn’t act with fairness, self-control or tolerance.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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