6 years ago

Officers Charged in Strip Search Investigation

The John Doe proceeding regarding illegal strip search activity involving Milwaukee Police Officers was closed on October 8, 2012. Four Milwaukee Police Officers made their initial court appearance on October 9, 2012 and were charged with crimes.

During the course of the John Doe, which lasted more than six months, more than 50 witnesses were subpoenaed to testify, some multiple times. The witness list included 32 department members and 24 citizen witnesses. The last group of witnesses testified on October 5, 2012.

Multiple allegations of police misconduct were investigated through the John Doe proceeding. While a number of the complaints were determined to have no prosecutable merit, four officers are being criminally charged for their involvement in eight crimes involving nine victims.

The charges include Second Degree Sexual Assault, Third Degree Sexual Assault, Fourth Degree Sexual Assault, Illegal Body Cavity Search, Illegal Strip Search and Misconduct in Public Office (Act in Excess of Lawful Authority). The officers were taken into custody, booked and were ordered released on their own recognizance.

The investigation showed that the criminal behavior was localized to a small group of officers at police District Five. The four officers being criminally charged are Jeffrey Dollhopf, Jacob Knight, Brian Kozelek and Michael Vagnini. The officers ages and years of service are as follows: Dollhopf, 41, 17 years of service; Knight, 31, 13 years of service; Kozelek, 33, 5 years of service; Vagnini, 34, 8 years of service.

During the course of this inquiry, more than 60 allegations were investigated. The MPD Internal Affairs Division will contact members of the public over the next several weeks regarding the status of their individual complaints. Investigations into potential violations of the Milwaukee Police Department Code of Conduct and Standard Operating Procedures have not yet occurred while the criminal investigation was underway. Those internal investigations are commencing now.

Some victims were found through investigation by Internal Affairs, some came forward after Chief Flynn made a public plea and some were found through testimony of Milwaukee Police Officers.

“As soon as our Internal Affairs Division identified a pattern of misconduct, the Milwaukee Police Department notified the District Attorney’s Office and requested the John Doe,” Chief Edward A. Flynn said. “It is important to note that members of the Milwaukee Police Department, through their testimony, disclosed the most egregious conduct.”

Prior to commencing the John Doe, the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office were made aware of the allegations and participated in the investigation. The FBI was present for and participated in the interviews of Milwaukee police officers.

Due to the serious nature of the allegations, any member possibly involved was placed on administrative duty without police powers. This was done to protect those not involved in criminal misconduct as well as to protect the citizens of Milwaukee from future victimization. It should be noted that several of the members originally placed on administrative duty were returned to full duty status subsequent to their John Doe testimony. Additionally, none of the officers being charged today were in any way involved in the in-custody death of Derek Williams.

According to the District Attorney’s office, there is no plan to charge additional officers in connection with the strip search investigation unless additional information not received during the John Doe proceeding comes to light. Anyone who wishes to report officer misconduct is again asked to call the Milwaukee Police Internal Affairs Division at 414-935-7939.

“All members of the Milwaukee Police Department are guided by a Code of Conduct which includes the core values of competence, courage, integrity, leadership, respect and restraint,” Chief Flynn said. “These core values are a road map for our officers as they make decisions each day that affect our citizens, our neighborhoods and our city. It appears that a very small group of officers deviated from that road map, and by that, we are disgraced.”

The Milwaukee Police Department publicly thanks Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Wagner, who presided over the John Doe, along with District Attorney John Chisholm, Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern and the lead prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Miriam Falk.

The criminal complaint can be viewed here: (WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT IN CRIMINAL COMPLAINT)

 Criminal Complaint

The Milwaukee Police Department Code of Conduct, the road map all MPD members are expected to follow in their daily work, can be viewed here:

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