MILWAUKEE (WITI) — A Milwaukee police officer accused of conducting illegal strip searches and cavity searches of men in his custody made a plea deal on Monday, April 22nd. Michael Vagnini pleaded no contest to four felonies and four misdemeanors for his wrongdoing.
The deal worked out is that a sexual assault charge was dismissed and Vagnini will not have to register as a sex offender. With this deal, Vagnini faces a possible three-and-a-half years in prison (per felony charge) — and will never be a police officer again.
Charges of misconduct in public office, illegal body cavity searches and illegal strip searches will follow 34-year-old Vagnini through the court system — but sexual assault charges will not.
Prosecutors believe this plea deal will stop illegal police searches and stop the adult male victims from having to go through a trial. Vagnini is accused of conducting body cavity searches of men in his custody — looking for drugs.
“There is no desire to revictimize individuals if we don’t have to do that,” Assistant District Attorney Miriam Falk said.
Others believe Vagnini should be a registered sex offender anyway.
“I feel sorry for the victims today. They need the extra protection,” Community Activist Tory Lowe said.
“When a white police officer without consent forcibly puts his hand up the rectum of a black citizen they call it an unclassified misdemeanor — so cops are allowed to rape African-American citizens and get away with it,” Attorney Robin Shellow said.
Shellow represents some of the victims, and says she hopes for federal charges in the future.
Vagnini is expected to be sentenced in June. The state is recommending prison. Three other officers involved in the case have a trial date of June 3rd.