Legal Action Filed by Illegal Strip Search Victims May Prove Costly for Milwaukee Police Departmentby Gamino Law Offices on 07/12/13
The Milwaukee Police Department is facing thousands in legal costs following illegal strip and cavity searches. Five men who were subjected to the illegal searches have filed two civil lawsuits in federal court this week against seven Milwaukee policemen, the department as a whole, and Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn. If all goes well for the plaintiffs, the police department may face upwards of $500,000 in damages and legal costs.
The suits follow a criminal investigation against the department over illegal strip and cavity searches, which led to the arrests of four Milwaukee officers: Michael Vagnini, Jacob Knight, Jeffrey Dollhopf, and Brian Kozelek. Although only two suits have been filed thus far, this is only the beginning of what may be a very lengthy legal battle for the department.
A total of 30 victims have already come forward in the case. One of the Milwaukee officers named as a defendant, Michael Vagnini, 34, was sentenced to 26 months in prison after pleading no contest to four felonies and four misdemeanors in connection with dozens of illegal searches.
According to Chief Flynn, the department had received complaints for "a couple of years" before it opened a formal investigation, leading many to wonder exactly how many more incidents involving the illegal activity of police officers have occurred throughout the years.
Both Milwaukee Police Department policy and Wisconsin law prohibit officers from performing cavity searches under any circumstances. Only doctors, physician's assistants or registered nurses may perform invasive searches on a suspect’s genital areas. Criminal defense lawyer Carlos Gamino reports that strip searches are permitted, but written permission from either the police chief or a supervisor must be obtained beforehand, unless the officer has reason to believe the suspect is carrying a weapon.
Officers allege they were searching for drugs on the suspects, but findings show that with many of the victims, no illegal drugs were discovered. But whether drugs were found not is irrelevant in a civil case.
Remaining victims and anyone with pending cases involving the these officers would benefit from hiring a Milwaukee criminal lawyer to ensure the best possible outcome for their cases are attained.