Brown Deer police chief defends department after criticism following shooting

BROWN DEER — The Brown Deer Police Department has received heavy criticism for the way it handled a standoff last year involving Radcliffe Haughton — the gunman in Sunday’s shooting at the Azana Salon & Spa that left three dead (including Haughton’s wife) and four injured. Haughton’s body was found inside the spa hours after the shooting, and he reportedly died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Brown Deer’s police chief spoke with FOX6 News Wednesday, October 24th and said his officers did everything they should have when dealing with the shooter on several occasions over the last few years.

Brown Deer police say they were unaware of how abusive the situation was between Radcliffe Haughton and his wife, Zina Haughton until they saw the bruises in early October, 2012. They have stressed that they understand it can be extremely difficult for victims to cooperate with police at times, and say they dealt with a lack of cooperation at times when working with Zina Haughton.

In an interview with FOX6 News, Brown Deer Police Chief Steven Rinzel defended the actions of his police department and the various encounters they had with Brookfield shooter Radcliffe Haughton and his wife — the target of Sunday’s shooting.

“We did process this thing through to bring criminal charges against Mr. Haughton,” Chief Rinzel said.

Chief Rinzel specifically discussed a situation in January of 2011 when they were called to the Haughton’s home in Brown Deer because Zina claimed she wanted to leave after an argument the two were having. Radcliffe reportedly would not move his car, leading to a standoff incident with police lasting over an hour.

During this standoff incident, a Brown Deer police officer thought she saw Radcliffe holding something that looked like a weapon. Two other officers saw Radcliffe, but didn’t believe they saw a weapon.

Still, officers responding backed off and called in a supervisor to sort everything out.

“It does come down to a judgment call and sometimes you have to allow their judgment to work its way though out there. Mrs. Haughton was insisting there were no weapons in the house. She wasn’t fearful of her house of fearful of other things,” Chief Rinzel said.

Chief Rinzel says Zina told officer she didn’t want them in her home and the supervisor eventually made the judgment call to back off — making no arrests. Disorderly conduct charges were filed because Radcliffe had thrown clothes onto the lawn during the incident.

“Someone might have questioned us if we went and knocked that door down for a disorderly conduct case and said ‘why did you do that? Were you right in doing that?'” Chief Rinzel said.

Chief Rinzel says he doesn’t believe the department can be blamed for the Brookfield shooting based entirely on their response to the January 2011 incident.

“To try to say just because of one incident, this caused the whole incident — that`s just not the facts,” Chief Rinzel said.

Chief Rinzel said he understands it’s tough for abuse victims to cooperate with police. He said when police noticed a more serious problem when they saw Zina Haughton battered and bruised on October 2nd, they pushed her to come to their office against her will for pictures, and brought in Radcliffe.

In hindsight, Chief Rinzel looked back to comments Zina Haughton made during a domestic abuse restraining order on Thursday of last week, during which she essentially said she feared for her life.

“If she would have told us anything that was said in that tape, that would have been very helpful for us, but she was never very cooperative. We need people to cooperate with us and I know that’s not an easy thing for domestic violence victims to do,” Chief Rinzel said.

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