Four Milwaukee police officers were cleared of criminal charges following an incident in which they used excessive force in arresting a teen in front of a Milwaukee bar, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Inspector General Joe Ferguson found that the officers relied on stun guns and fists in their arrest of Anthony Smith, an 18-year-old with bipolar disorder, but he says that Smith was free to leave the restaurant when one of the officers grabbed him and had to use force to subdue him.
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The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division concluded that Smith was facing lesser charges for his alleged involvement in a theft and threatening a female bartender than for his resisting arrest – and said that the officers may have needed to “apply more force and restraint to arrest him.”
“Based on the evidence, and without taking a subjective position on Mr. Smith’s actions on the night in question, the department concludes that the officers used reasonable force to effect a lawful arrest of an individual who posed a substantial threat of using a deadly weapon during the arrest,” Ferguson concluded.
Smith was later charged with possession of marijuana after the police were called to the restaurant because the female bartender said he was “harassing her,” Ferguson said.
The officers who arrested Smith, Michael Gaffney, Michael Michalak, Bradley Waller and Kenneth Matthews, have all retired or resigned from the department.
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