MY TESTIMONY IN FAVOR OF AB 409
December 12, 2013-Wisconsin Assembly Criminal Justice Committee
It is with great pleasure that I come before you today to testify in support of AB 409. This bill represents an important first step to insure that law enforcement officials respect the Constitutional rights of the people of Wisconsin. While the vast majority of law enforcement officials indeed serve and protect residents, citizens and visitors in Wisconsin, sadly and occasionally, rogue police officers violate the state and US Constitutional guarantees to be free from unwarranted abuse by police.
AB 409 represents merely a first step in providing an appropriate safeguard in the worst-case scenario of Constitutional abuse by law enforcement officials, i.e., the taking of someone’s life by such officials. From my perspective, such independent review should happen in all cases of police brutality.
For example, I represent a middle school student with emotional disabilities in Sun Prairie who had his Constitutional rights violated when Officer Brandon Lingle slammed his head to the hard school floor without provocation earlier this year, giving my client a concussion and bleeding in his eye. It also traumatized my client, who now is fearful of this police liaison officer who continues to maintain his post at Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School. Fortunately, this incident was caught on a school security camera providing an excellent view of this Constitutional violation.
My client’s mother, who is a low-income single parent, sought an investigation by the Sun Prairie police, but that department merely informed her that Officer Lingle’s actions were appropriate. As a result, she retained me and I have filed a federal lawsuit (Case No. 13-cv-414, W.D. Wis.) on my clients’ behalf to enforce his Constitutional rights. In order to successfully prosecute this case, I have obtained an independent expert police conduct report, which has identified multiple violations of my client’s civil rights by Officer Lingle and the Sun Prairie police department, which clearly failed to provide appropriate supervision and discipline in this case.
The citizens of Wisconsin should not be forced to file a federal lawsuit to protect their Constitutional rights when police officers abuse them, especially when law enforcement officials kill them. AB 409 takes an important first step to protect everyone from rogue police officers who kill anyone in Wisconsin. I urge the Committee to promptly pass this bi-partisan measure.