Victims of Milwaukee Police Departments Illegal Rectal Searches Sue the City!

WOW! Today, for the first time, victims of the notorious
police assaults in Milwaukee,  publicly come forward.  

Topping years of scandal over illegal and
often painful rectal searches by Milwaukee police officers who eventually were charged
with criminal conduct, this morning victims of the misconduct filed suit in
federal court against the City, and eight current and former officers. 

At noon today, two of the four plaintiffs in the new suit
– Jerrold Ezell and Anthony Pettis – spoke out publicly for the first
time.  They were joined by their
attorneys, Robin Shellow of The Shellow Group of Milwaukee, and Jon Loevy and
Heather Lewis Donnell of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, a Chicago-based
firm which is the largest civil rights firm in the region.

and dozens” of people had complained of illegal cavity searches by
Milwaukee police officers  over the
years, according to Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, but until
today, none have spoken publicly about their trauma.  All of the known victims are African
American.  All of the known alleged
police perpetrators are white.

According to today’s suit:

  • In
    February 2011 Ezell was sitting in his car parked in front of his
    grandmother’s house when Sergeant Jason Mucha and Officers Michael Vagnini
    and Jacob Knight approached the car with their weapons drawn.  Even though he had no probable cause,
    during the course of Ezell’s arrest Vagnini grabbed Mr. Ezell’s scrotum
    and put his hand through Mr. Ezell’s buttocks cheeks with a blading
    motion, all outside his pants.

with his search of Mr. Ezell, Officer Vagnini then began to use his fingers to
claw and attempt to penetrate Mr. Ezell’s anus. Officer Vagnini threatened Mr.
Ezell stating: “If you try to run, I’ll blow your fucking head off,” or words
to that effect.  Sergeant Mucha and
Officer Knight stood by and watched Officer Vagnini’s searches of Mr. Ezell, but
did nothing to intervene or stop him.

  • In
    July 2011 Vagnini performed a similar illegal cavity “search,”
    this time against Anthony Pettis, in an interrogation room of Milwaukee’s
    7th District Police Station. Vagnini, who on April 22 pled no contest to four
    felony and four misdemeanor crimes, bragged to Officers Bartol and Seitz
    that “This is how you search these guys.”  Bartol and Seitz failed to stop the
  • In
    November 2011, Officers Bartol and Seitz entered a private residence
    without a warrant or probable cause, followed by dozens of other officers,
    including Vagnini and Knight. 
    Officer Vagnini ordered Mr. Pettis and Mr. Ezell to stand up and
    then shoved his bare two fingers into both Mr. Ezell’s and Mr. Pettis’
    rectums one after another without pausing to wash his hands or put on
    gloves.  No drugs were found on
    either man, and yet the officers arrested them.