FPC: Officers acted appropriately in case involving John Kriewaldt

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee's Fire and Police Commission has ruled officers involved in a case involving John Kriewaldt acted appropriately. Kriewaldt died after police responded to a group home where he had been staying after Kriewaldt reportedly became violent. When placed into a squad car, Kriewaldt reportedly began hitting his head on a pole in the squad, and when being treated by EMTs for a cut on his forehead, Kriewaldt stopped breathing and later died.

Officers were called to the group home on July 27th, when 31-year-old Kriewaldt apparently became violent and was destroying property.

Police say Kriedwaldt started hitting his head on a pole in the back of a police squad. They took him out of the squad car and laid him down, and that's when he vomited. Paramedics were called, but Kriedwaldt's family says he may have choked.

The next day, the executive director of Bell Therapy, the company that runs the group home, issued a statement. It says Bell Therapy is bound by medical privacy law, but can confirm there was a "crisis that limited our ability to safely provide care."

Chris Walters, a supervisor at Paratech, says he's been on many calls where mental health patients become violent. Medical responders always wait until police first make the situation safe before they step in.

"There's a condition called excited delirium that does initially present as a mental health type. It is a medical condition that, if unrecognized, could compound the problems and it has been know to lead to cardiac arrest on some patients," Walters said.

In Kriewaldt's case, an ambulance was called.

Kriewaldt's mother, Helen, wants people to know her son was a sweet, loving man who liked to bowl, play basketball and watch Jeopardy. She says he was doing well in the Bell Therapy group home. However, his mental illness made him prone to those violent outbursts. Helen said Kriewaldt was about to try new medication in an effort to control his violent outbursts.

In a statement, Mike Tobin, the Executive Director of the FPC said: "A full investigation was initiated to determine whether the actions of the Milwaukee Police Officers were appropriate and whether criminal charges or disciplinary sanctions should be imposed upon the involved officers.

The question relating to criminal charges was answered on October 19, 2012, when Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm authored a statement declining to file
criminal charges against the officers, indicating in part:

“I am satisfied that Officers Jordan, Connell, and Kasberger committed no crime in connection with this incident and that their use of force, to the extent any was actually used, was completely appropriate given the circumstances.”

Following the decision of the District Attorney, the case was returned to Milwaukee Police
Chief Edward Flynn for further investigation as to whether the involved officers were in
violation of any rules, policies, or procedures which would justify disciplinary sanctions.
An investigation was conducted by the Internal Affairs Division and on January 7, 2013, Chief Flynn determined that the involved officers did not violate department rules, policies, or procedures."