Four white officers used excessive force when they arrested a 17-year-old black boy in Milwaukee, federal authorities allege.
Federal prosecutors said Tuesday the trio of officers and a supervisor violated the juvenile’s civil rights during a meeting with Milwaukee’s black caucus at the mall.
The teen was handcuffed and taken into custody for being improperly dressed and for being in possession of a small amount of marijuana and marijuana oil.
Prosecutors said that the boy was interrogated into providing false statements about his location and presence at the mall where the officers were conducting surveillance at a news conference. He was also provided handcuffs, leg shackles and an electronic ankle monitor, and that deputies took him to a youth detention center where he was physically restrained.
The county sheriff’s office denied the allegations in a statement, insisting that the officers followed protocol, met with city officials and carried out their duties professionally.
“The resolution of the complaint shows that our officers acted as they were trained. The Civil Rights Division has been unwilling to follow the facts and evidence and simply picks and chooses what it wishes to use in the circumstances,” the department said.
The arrest drew criticism last month from Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and others who said there’s a pattern of the sheriff’s office profiling and arresting black and brown people. The incident came five months after a grand jury declined to indict the officers involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man.
The Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church called the Sept. 17 arrest the worst in what he has heard about police stops and excessive force at the mall.
The teen’s mother, Barbara Terrell, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that officers pointed guns at her son’s face and falsely claimed he was taking them hostage.
Terrell’s lawyer, Jeffrey Landy, said the boy was “too defenseless to be tackled or cuffed.
The teen was picked up for an outstanding warrant and a marijuana paraphernalia charge, according to the Journal Sentinel.
Two of the officers were stripped of their gun and badge, and one of them was placed on leave.
Milwaukee had a black civilian review board in 2006 that was disbanded in 2012 after a series of high-profile police shootings of unarmed black people.