Milwaukee police shooting suspect pleads not guilty

Jetrin Rodthong pleaded not guilty on Wednesday, Feb. 9 in connection with the shooting of a Milwaukee police officer and theft of his squad car.

Rodthong is charged with eight counts including: 

  • Attempted first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon
  • Operating vehicle without owner's consent, armed carjacking
  • Bail jumping (three counts)
  • Second-degree recklessly endangering safety
  • Hit-and-run resulting in injury
  • Possession of Methamphetamine

According to a criminal complaint, police received a call shortly before 6 p.m. Thursday about a man slumped over in a vehicle near 25th Street and St. Paul Avenue. The caller said he attempted to make contact with the driver of the vehicle, and the driver looked up at the caller, but his head slumped back down.

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A single police officer responded to the vehicle shortly before 6:15 p.m. and attempted to make contact with the driver, who was seen on body camera footage slumped over the console of the car. After the officer entered the unlocked driver's side door and removed the keys from the ignition, the driver, later identified as Rodthong, sat upright and moved his hands to shield what was later determined to be a firearm on his lap, the complaint says.

Officer shot near 25th and St. Paul, Milwaukee

Rodthong admitted to drinking alcohol and the officer called for backup, the complaint says. Rodthong is seen on camera following the officer's orders to get out of his vehicle but began looking around for what officers assumed to be an escape route. The officer told Rodthong to "come stand right here, please." Rodthong complied but continued to keep his right side facing away from the officer as if hiding something on his right side, according to prosecutors. As Rodthong moved away from the Dodge and cleared the open driver's side door, the complaint says he tried to run east on St. Paul.

As the officer tried to grab Rodthong's arm, a struggle ensued. Multiple gunshots were heard, and the officer's body camera fell off. Dash camera footage shows Rodthong shooting twice at the officer, according to prosecutors. The officer reacted by shooting "two or three times" at Rodthong. As Rodthong hid behind the door of his vehicle, the officer fired five times in the direction of the defendant. Rodthong's gun malfunctioned, and he recoiled behind the door again. The officer again fired one more shot as Rodthong ran, with a gun in his hand, back to the squad car.

Officer shot near 25th and St. Paul, Milwaukee

Nineteen seconds after the last gunshot was heard, the officer dispatched that he needed medical assistance and that his squad had been stolen, headed eastbound on St. Paul.

Prosecutors say Rodthong drove the squad east on St. Paul at a high rate of speed, traveling east to 13th Street, where he disregarded the red light and turned left to head north on 13th Street. 

Rodthong drove north to W. Clybourn St., where the complaint says he disregarded the red light and again turned left, now heading west on Clybourn. He continued west, disregarding the red light at 16th Street while traveling around 65mph. Ultimately, while disregarding the red light at 17th Street, he struck the driver’s side of a vehicle that was southbound on 17th Street, entering the intersection of W. Clybourn Street. Prosecutors say Rodthong slowed slightly before impact.

Two people in a Chrysler Pacifica were taken to the hospital with injuries. 

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Prosecutors say Rodthong fled on foot and was apprehended by officers near 17th and Wisconsin. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds to both of his arms and was taken to the hospital for treatment. 

In an interview with police, Rodthong said he had recently purchased the drugs, that he uses meth and heroin and that he had used them prior to his contact with the police officer. He stated that he was not sure how he got to where he was parked but that the officer woke him up. He stated that the officer asked him his name and then asked him to get out of the vehicle. He stated that during this exchange with the officer, he had a pink 9mm gun in his waistband, according to the complaint. When asked what happened next, referring to the shooting, Rodthong would not acknowledge the shooting but repeated that he just wanted to get away. 

Online court records show Rodthong is due back in court for a scheduling conference on Feb. 21.

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