Civil Liberties

Cop Caught on Camera Withdrawing Money Using Drunk Man's ATM Card and Walking Away Had a Good Reason But Who Trusts the Police?

Milwaukee Police chief appeared to blame department's trust deficit on media, not prior police obfuscation


helping out

A security guard who saw a Milwaukee cop escort a drunk man to an ATM, withdraw $300 and walk away sent a copy of the tape to the FBI and a local television station, but not the police chief. Local NBC affiliate TMJ4 reports:

The security guard wanted this investigated but told MPD's Internal Affairs, "He did not trust the Milwaukee Police Department to investigate the matter properly."
That security [guard] asked the I-Team to hold police accountable. MPD's Internal Affairs talked to all involved. The department's report found, "the investigation revealed no evidence of criminal misconduct."

It turns out the man was a Marine. The cop helped him out when the Marine broke a taxi window.

The report showed the cab driver did not want to press charges and only wanted the Marine to pay him back for the damages. The report said the "officer indicated he did not keep any of the money."

A pattern of police abuse and excess has led to a significant trust deficit for police. From TMJ4:

MPD's reputation makes investigating itself harder… [the security guard] said he doubted MPD because how long it took the agency to release the Derek Williams' dash cam video.

Williams died while begging for help in police custody in 2011. Also, in April Officer Michael Vagnini entered a plea in his role in the illegal strip search scandal within the agency. Three other cops are still awaiting trial. Also, the FBI is still looking into practices within the department…

Even Chief Edward Flynn admits trust is a key element.

"A community's trust in the police department is a crucial component," explained Flynn.

But when so many fail to trust his department, how can it change the negative perception? Flynn blamed us.

"I'll tell you how we change the perception. I'm old enough to remember when being transparent was a bad thing. Now we recognize it's a good thing," said Flynn.

The police chief has previously called the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's extensive reporting on his police department  a "witch hunt." Speaking of witch hunts, Flynn promised his own against legal gun owners in Milwaukee.

You can see the video via TMJ4 here.