MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission’s decision to permanently discharge Richard Schoen from the Milwaukee Police Department is not necessarily the end of the line. Schoen can keep fighting the charges and the discipline if he so chooses.
Schoen already appealed his firing by Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn once. Schoen believed his firing was unjusified, so he went before the FPC to have it overturned.
This, after Schoen was seen on dashcam video punching Jeanine Tracy, a suspect he had arrested for reportedly becoming combative during a traffic stop, as she sat handcuffed in the backseat of a squad car. Schoen was then seen pulling Tracy out of the squad car by her hair inside a police district garage.
The FPC intially re-instated Schoen, serving him a 60-day suspension as punishment for his actions. However, on Tuesday, December 11th, the Commission reversed its decision, ruling to remove Schoen from the force.
Franklyn Gimbel is not only a former member of the FPC, but has also represented fired officers in their appeals process. Gimbel told FOX6 News, Schoen’s battle for his job doesn’t have to end with Tuesday’s FPC decision. Schoen and his attorney can now take their case to Milwaukee’s Circuit Court.
“The court can look at both the process by which the Commission reached its decision and/or the reasonableness of their conclusions based on the facts that they heard,” Gimbel said.
That means it’s not just the FPC‘s two decisions that can be challenged, those being that Schoen violated policy and the disciplinary response, but also how they arrived at those rulings.
“There are some procedural issues that will be raised if the case goes beyond the Fire and Police Commission which I would almost bet the farm will happen,” Gimbel said.
In question — that the FPC made one decision and then a week later changed it.
However, in circuit court, Schoen and his attorney will bear the burden of proof that the FPC was wrong. Plus, they’ll have to do it without any new witnesses.
“The court doesn’t have the opportunity to open its doors to hearing new information in the form of evidence. So it’s really an appeal or a review of what the Fire and Police Commission did,” Gimbel said.
FOX6 News did reach out to the Milwaukee Police Association and Schoen’s attorney. However, neither of them returned messages. It is unclear whether Schoen will appeal. He has nine days to make that decision.
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