Attorney: Three guidelines for officers when making domestic abuse arrest

BROWN DEER — During an apparent domestic violence incident in Brown Deer in January of 2011 involving Azana Salon & Spa shooter Radcliffe Haughton and his wife, Zina, though police were called to the Haughton’s home, no arrests were made. Eventually, Radcliffe Haughton was charged with disorderly conduct — not domestic abuse, and those charges were eventually dismissed. FOX6 News spoke with an attorney Wednesday, October 24th regarding why an arrest wasn’t made that day.

Sunday’s shooting that left three dead, including the gunman’s wife and four others injured has led many to take a closer look at Wisconsin’s domestic violence laws — many wondering whether this shooting could have been prevented.

Attorney Jonathan Smith is a defense attorney who handles domestic violence cases. He says officers who believe domestic violence is taking place are required by state law to make an arrest.

However, when Brown Deer police were called to the Haughton’s home in January of 2011, Radcliffe Haughton was only charged with misdemanor disorderly conduct — a charge that was eventually dismissed, partly because police said Zina Haughton was uncooperative.

“Often times, there’s only two people who know what did or did not happen. It certainly does happen from time to time that when law enforcement arrives that whoever the purported victim is at that time says nothing actually happened,” Smith said.

For Haughton to have been arrested for domestic abuse, officers would have had to conclude one of three things that day:

  • continued violence against the victim was likely
  • there was evidence of physical injury
  • Radcliffe Haughton appeared to be the predominant aggressor

“Those last two are some fairly subjective tests for law enforcement. It does create some some gray areas,” Smith said.

Smith stresses the police really had no way of knowing exactly what was going on in the Haughton’s home that day — saying the only people who really know are the family members.

However, Smith said it sounds like officers had enough information that day to at least take Radcliffe Haughton into custody — thought Haughton was not ever arrested that day.

CLICK HERE for additional coverage of the Azana Salon & Spa shooting via FOX6Now.com.

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