MILWAUKEE -- Attorney Robin Shellow is representing the victim in counts one, two and three in the 12-page criminal complaint charging four Milwaukee police officers with allegedly conducting illegal body cavity searches. Shellow says her client will suffer long-term effects following his run-in with the law.
"You have a systematic use of sexual intimidation. (He is) traumatized. He still has nightmares. (He was) terrified and physically hurt," Shellow said.
Four Milwaukee police officers were charged Tuesday, October 9th for criminal misconduct related to illegal strip searches of individuals in the community. Eight people filed notices claiming they were illegally searched.
34-year-old Officer Michael Vagnini faces 25 counts of violating the strip search law, misconduct in public office and second-degree sexual assault. If convicted of these crimes, Vagnini faces up to 40 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.
41-year-old Officer Jeffrey Dollhopf faces two counts of violating the strip search law and two counts of misconduct in public office.
Officers Brian Kozelek, 33 and Jacob Knight, 31 each face one count of violating the strip search law and one count of misconduct in public office.
The criminal complaint in the case details nine alleged victims with incidents spanning from February of 2010 to February of 2012.
The criminal complaint indicates while searching for drugs, Officer Vagnini proceeded to put the victim Shellow is representing into a "choke hold from behind." Officer Vagnini then allegedly "shoved his fingers deeply into the victim's butt crack and possibly into his anus." This reportedly caused the victim to bleed for several days.
Attorney Jonathan Safran is representing eight men who say they've been subject to these illegal body cavity searches by Milwaukee police officers. Both Shellow and Safran say these allegations are just the beginning.
"What's truly scary is this is just the tip of the iceberg," Shellow said.
"We're well aware of other victims. We're well aware of other police officers and much more widespread (violations) in the department," Safran said.
Safran says the charges filed Tuesday bring some closure to his clients.
"I know my clients are happy. This is something they've been living with for a long period of time," Safran said.
Meanwhile, Shellow says more needs to be done.
"There's a conspiracy of silence in this town to violate the civil rights of African-Americans and the silence has to be broken. The only way it can break is if the District Attorney`s Office doesn`t protect the police and everybody involved in the incident. I believe Chief Flynn should be charged as an aider and abettor," Shellow said.
The four Milwaukee police officers charged made their initial appearance in court Tuesday afternoon. Charges were filed following a seven-month investigation initiated by MPD Internal Affairs.
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