Brown Deer - The Brown Deer police officer who shot an unruly bus passenger in March was charged with aggravated battery on Friday, Oct. 21, marking the first time in 10 years that a Milwaukee-area police officer has been charged for a shooting.
The officer, Devon Kraemer, and fellow officer Michael Leeman were flagged down by a Milwaukee County Transit System bus driver at 4:55 p.m. March 14 in the 8600 block of N. 60th St. The bus driver told police that one of the passengers, Manuel Burnley Jr., was using argumentative language with her and wanted him removed from the bus, according to a criminal complaint. The argument started because she told him that MCTS requires a M-card for transfers.
Video surveillance footage shows Kraemer and Leeman board the bus to speak with Burnley, who used vulgar language and refused to exit the bus, according to the complaint. The two officers removed Burnley from the bus, and when he resisted being handcuffed, Leeman forced him to the ground. Leeman and Kraemer also went down, falling out of view of the surveillance camera. A gunshot was then heard on the video.
The Milwaukee Police Department investigated the shooting. Kraemer told a Milwaukee detective she wasn't sure if she and Leeman fell due to something Burnley did or something Leeman did. She said that Burnley's left arm was pinned beneath his body, and he struggled with her as she tried to free his left arm. When she was unable to gain control of his left arm, she drew her gun, pressed it into his back, pulled it away a short distance and shot him in the back. She told the detective that she feared for her safety and the safety of Leeman.
After the shooting, Burnley was taken by ambulance to Froedtert Hospital, where he received a blood transfusion. Doctors found that a lobe of his lung was bleeding from two puncture wounds, which were then stitched shut. He was released from the hospital after 12 days with the loss of part of his lung and fractured rib fragments. The bullet remains in his body to this day, according to his attorney, Jonathan Safran. Burnley is unable to work and he continues to be treated for mental and psychological injuries, Safran said.
The officer-involved shooting was reviewed by Emanuel Kapelsohn, an expert in police defense and use of force. After reviewing the police reports from the case, including the surveillance footage and interviews of Kraemer, Leeman and Burnley, Kapelsohn concluded Kraemer's use of force was not consistent with "generally accepted standards for use of force," according to the complaint.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office informed the Brown Deer Police Department earlier this week that it intended to charge Kraemer with a crime. Kraemer has been placed on paid administrative leave.
"As with any officer-involved shooting, the Brown Deer Police Department recognized that criminal charges were always a possibility," Brown Deer Police Chief Michael Kass said. "We fully understand and accept the need for this high level of scrutiny within the criminal justice system."
If Kraemer is convicted, she faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, as well as a maximum fine of $50,000.
Safran said the last known instance of a Milwaukee-area police officer being charged in a shooting was in 2006, when Alfonzo Glover was charged for the 2005 death of Wilbert Javier Prado.
Kraemer has five years of experience with the Brown Deer Police Department, and Leeman has two years of experience.
Safran filed a notice of injury with the village of Brown Deer in July. In the document, Safran alleges that when Burnley asked the officers what happened, Leeman told him, "We just shot you," then used a racial epithet. Burnley is African-American, and the two officers are white.
A civil lawsuit has not been filed at this time, but Safran said one will likely be filed in the future.