Police determine teen's complaint alleging brutality is unfounded
Mar 15, 2013 (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The Milwaukee Police Department's internal affairs division has determined a complaint filed by a 19-year-old man who accused officers of using unnecessary force is unfounded.
Jordan Cain scuffled with three officers outside a north side gas station on Jan. 26. He was charged with bail jumping and resisting or obstructing an officer. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Cain filed a complaint with the department but did not file a complaint with the Fire and Police Commission. He alleged in his complaint that officers threw him down, pushed his face into the ground and struck him on the head with an unknown object. A picture of Cain's bloodied and bruised face later turned up on Facebook and videos from a squad car dash camera and the gas station captured parts of the scuffle.
But in an interview with the Journal Sentinel, top members of the Police Department, as well as members of the internal affairs division, said investigators determined that the two officers, Theodore Puente and John Graber, appropriately followed the code of conduct and used training methods that were "delivered in appropriate proportion to overcome the level of (Cain's) resistance."
"The officers' actions were lawful and proper," said Capt. Gary Gacek of internal affairs.
It is unusual for members of the Milwaukee Police Department to share the details of an internal affairs investigation before it is formally released under the state's open records law. Police officials said they wanted to demonstrate they take such complaints seriously.
Cain was pumping gas at Kool Petroleum, 3381 N. 35th St., when Puente and Graber were at the scene looking into another incident. They noticed that Cain's car had a suspended registration.
As the two officers approached, Cain got into his car but told officers his registration was in the trunk. He got out with his hands in the pockets of his sweat shirt and began to move toward the back of the car.
Police say Cain ignored an order to stop. Graber then put his hand on one of Cain's arms. It was at that point that Puente said he saw Cain put a baggie with a substance inside it in his mouth.
Suspecting he was trying to swallow narcotics, Puente and a third officer, Sgt. Louis Staton, approached Cain. The officers told investigators Cain was resisting arrest and acting aggressively.
Cain was pepper-sprayed. As the officers worked to subdue Cain, Staton told investigators that he spotted a portion of the baggie protruding from Cain's mouth. Police said Cain was moving his face back and forth on the ground, "causing his face to abrade on the pavement."
Police called medical personnel to take Cain to the hospital.
According to the internal affairs report, Cain told a fire lieutenant at the scene, "I swallowed a bag of weed."
Cain was examined at a hospital and given medical clearance to go back to jail.
But the internal affairs report also states that Cain later told a police sergeant and a police aide that he had ingested cocaine. And a cellmate heard a conversation in which Cain said he had ingested cocaine.
As a result, he was taken back to the hospital where he was given medical clearance a second time to return to jail. The internal affairs report indicates that an ambulance attendant who took Cain back to the hospital a second time, as well as an emergency room nurse, told investigators that Cain had told them he had ingested cocaine.
Police requested the hospital reports involving Cain but were turned down for privacy reasons.
The internal affairs report mentions that Puente and Graber failed to turn on the audio from the dash camera during the incident. The officers were told to review the department's protocol for using the video camera.
Police said Cain declined to cooperate in their internal affairs investigation. Cain's attorneys, James and Robin Shellow, say they expect the case to go to trial.
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