'Could've been prevented:' Milwaukee man accused of pepper spraying deputy taken into custody

Joshua Martin

COLUMBIA COUNTY -- A manhunt in Columbia County led to the arrest of a man, 30, from Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood. Authorities said he pepper sprayed a deputy during a traffic stop, and his family said he was displaying concerning behavior leading up to that incident.

Joshua Martin's brother said he felt Milwaukee police should have done more when his brother was showing signs he needed a mental health evaluation, but Milwaukee police said they followed department policy in this case, and did not have grounds to detain him.

The traffic stop took place around 12:15 a.m. Monday, May 13 near State Highway 60 at O'Conner Road in WestPoint Township.

Sheriff's officials said a deputy made contact with the driver, who sprayed an unknown liquid substance into the deputy's face and eyes -- possibly an "oleoresin capsicum." The driver fled the scene, and the deputy was unable to pursue him due to impaired vision.

After a 48-hour manhunt, Martin was taken into custody Wednesday morning, May 15. His brother Scott Martin told FOX6 News he was relieved.

He said concerning behavior came to their attention Thursday, May 9, when Joshua Martin was involved in a physical altercation that required a police response near his home in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood.

Joshua Martin, Scott Martin

In a statement, Scott Martin said he wanted Milwaukee police to take his brother in for a mental health evaluation, but his brother told officers he was "OK," despite making concerning statements to his family. Scott Martin was informed paperwork would be filed to order an evaluation, writing: "I feel this could've been prevented by MPD. They told us to file a three-party petition and that it would take at least a week. I guaranteed them we didn't have that long."

Their fears came to fruition when they learned about the traffic stop and manhunt. Joshua Martin was considered missing and endangered.

Milwaukee police said officers were following department policy. Joshua Martin was not showing signs of suicidal or homicidal behavior, which meant officers did not have grounds to detain him or make him go to Milwaukee County Mental Health.

Still, Scott Martin said he believed more could've been done, writing: "Our family is relieved Josh was found. We are grateful to the local authorities in Columbia County. This is completely out of character from the person we all know Josh to be, and now I hope he can get the mental health treatment he needs. I want him to know he is so loved and to hang in there."