Sheriff Clarke confronted after FOX6 investigation prompts federal lawsuit

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Accused of a cover-up, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and four of his deputies are named as co-defendants in a federal civil rights lawsuit -- and it all started with a FOX6 investigation that garnered national attention. A sober driver was arrested for drunk driving in February of 2013 -- and she's still fighting back.

When a Sheriff's deputy T-boned her car last year, Tanya Weyker suffered more than a broken neck. She suffered the indignity of a false arrest for driving while intoxicated.

Now, she has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit.

"Ms. Weyker's constitutional rights were violated very severely," Chicago lawyer, Jon Erickson said.

With Weyker standing silently at his side, Erickson on Tuesday, July 8th announced the filing of a federal lawsuit against Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and four of his deputies.

"The Sheriff is responsible," Erickson said.

The lawsuit comes two months after a FOX6 investigation showed Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Quiles T-boned Weyker's Toyota Camry and then lied about who caused the crash.

Weyker admitted to having a few sips of a friend's drink that night -- and nothing more.

Her injuries were too severe to perform field sobriety tests.

Sheriff's Deputy Scott Griffin arrested Weyker anyway -- and cited her for driving drunk, even though blood tests would later prove Weyker had no alcohol or drugs in her system.

"I explained to him my eyes were red and glassy because I was crying," Weyker told FOX6 Investigator Bryan Polcyn.

Erickson says his client was treated like a criminal as she laid in a hospital bed in pain.

"Had to ask for permission to use the wash room in front of a deputy who was keeping watch on her," Erickson said.

Video from an airport surveillance camera eventually proved that Deputy Quiles never stopped before turning onto Howell Avenue -- as he claimed in his report.

The Sheriff's Office knew about the video two days after the crash, but the drunk driving case continued for 10 months before a prosecutor finally decided to file formal charges.

"A video that exonerated Ms. Weyker was sat on for months and months until the good work of FOX 6," Erickson said.

The lawsuit filed in federal court accuses Sheriff Clarke, Deputy Quiles and three other deputies of engaging in a cover-up of Deputy Quiles' role in causing the crash by falsely arresting Weyker for driving while intoxicated.

It accuses Sheriff Clarke of having a "de facto policy" of concealing and suppressing officer misconduct through what the lawsuit terms a "code of silence."

It seeks unspecified damages for Weyker.

"She, all her life, thought that law enforcement was here to serve and protect and to tell the truth and be on the side of good and go after the bad guys. She never expected that the bad guy would, in fact, be law enforcement," Erickson said.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has never been shy about speaking his mind in front of a television camera until now.

After giving Sheriff Clarke months to sit down for an interview, FOX6 News finally had no choice but to approach him at a campaign stop -- when he came to Serb Hall in June for Seniorfest.

Bryan Polcyn: "Bryan Polcyn, FOX6, can I have just a minute to talk to you?"

Sheriff Clarke: "Not really."

Bryan Polcyn: "I'd like to talk to you about Deputy Joseph Quiles. Would you give me just a minute Sheriff? There are a lot of people that have questions."

Sheriff Clarke: "You know, I'm here to help seniors celebrate their day. There's an appropriate process for that -- is to go through my public information officer."

FOX6's Bryan Polcyn tried that -- five times, in fact, since February 28th.

The first four times, the Sheriff's spokesperson ignored the request.

The fifth time, she wrote: "The Sheriff will not be doing an interview," without explaining why.

Sheriff Clarke: "She has responded. She may not have responded in the way that you liked it -- but she did respond, okay?"

Bryan Polcyn: "Is there a reason that you don't want to talk about that incident?"

Sheriff Clarke: "Look, there's a courtesy that goes along with being a reporter. There is a professionalism. Apparently you don't get it -- okay? This is an event to honor seniors and that's why I am here today -- to give them their respect. And you ought to do the same thing."

Once again, FOX6's Bryan Polcyn asked multiple times for a sit down interview.

Bryan Polcyn: "I will walk away now if we can sit down and do an we always have."

Once again, Sheriff Clarke declined.

Bryan Polcyn: "I just want to know if you believe the arrest of Tanya Weyker was appropriate under the circumstances?"

As for Deputy Quiles, at the time of the crash, he was treated and released for minor injuries. He has yet to return to work.

The attorney representing his workers compensation case told FOX6 News that according to his doctors, he is disabled and cannot perform his duties -- at least for awhile.

The County Executive's office says Quiles has a claim for permanent duty disability that is still pending.

CLICK HERE to read the press release issued by the Chicago law firm representing Weyker

On Sunday, July 13th, FOX6 News sits down exclusively with the victim in this story. We'll get the latest from her perspective, Sunday on FOX6 News.

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  • SPN221 (@spn221)

    Sheriff Clarke no doubt thought no one would discover this information. Tanya Weyker is fortunate she found an Attorney to take the case. Few lawyers will take a case against the Police/Sheriff Departments. While the cover up is shameful to Milwaukee County, the press should realize that Sheriff Clarke can’t comment on pending litigation whether he is guilty or innocent.

    • David Kelder

      spn221 sais ‘ ” While the cover up is shameful to Milwaukee County, the press should realize that Sheriff Clarke can’t comment on pending litigation whether he is guilty or innocent.” There was plenty of time for the sheriff to respond BEFORE there was a lawsuit pending. Likely, if there had been no false charges, there would have been no lawsuit.

  • Dirk

    For the most part I like David Clark but this makes him look as guilty as the dumbass officers that wrote the tickets. It was obvious by where her car was hit she wasn’t at fault so that’s why they wrote the DWI I hope all the cops in the case get nailed to the wall for this.

  • phil

    Ignorant deputy thinks he’s above the law and any scrutiny for his actions. Multiple deputies involved. Milwaukee County taxpayers can look forward to paying millions to fix this one. Public Trust is a dangerous thing to lose. Don’t these deputies take an oath to protect and serve? Call a deputy, they’ll help.

  • Joseph Murray

    So you think someone hid the video exonerating the driver for months while the charges stood? If he’s that disconnected from what’s going on in his own departmwnt he deserves to be fired on that alone. Stop kidding yourself.

  • paus

    Or the poster is just another police apologist. It is a sad statement of our current situation were we fear the police more than criminals when it comes to our families’ safety. Anymore they only serve and protect themselves as the story clearly highlights.

  • Mikey

    I certainly hope Quiles had blood drawn for drug testing after the accident. He was probably jacked up on steroids or cocaine. They need to test both parties if they’re going to test one. In my state a person’s drivers license is suspended if they fail to submit to testing. I think Quiles’ actions amount to de facto refusal to be tested. He was obviously hiding facts in this incident and his being impaired was most likely just another cover up.

    • Mikey

      I just wanted to add that Quiles was paid to drive around all day, every day at work. That is what constitutes being a professional driver. Professional drivers don’t make stupid errors like failing to stop at a signal or stop sign unless they are impaired.

  • Christina Wade

    Until cops are held accountable from their own pocket and treated like citizen are treated when we do something wrong, they will always to try cover up what they do wrong. I am so scared to look at an officer the wrong way for fear of getting arrest because the cop thinks my facial expression is threatening. My husband and I always tell our children if they see an officer to go the opposite way. I hate the society that we live in now days.

  • Average Guy

    While I do agree that the sheriff has clearly done something wrong, it disgusts me at how rude the cameraman and reporter are. Saying, “I’ll leave if we can have a sit-down interview,” is nothing more than an attempt to ruin the senior’s day so you can get info. I think there’s a time and a place to hound him, and it’s going to be in court by a judge, not at a celebration event by a reporter who would rather ignore professionalism and common respect just for a story.

  • Mickey Mouse

    I came here to say the same thing. Very good blood hound reporting. Way to stick with the story and shine a light on this. We don’t see reporting like this anymore. Seems that every reporter in the US just goes along to get along. As far as the police in this matter, well I just hope that the LAW does what it is suppose to do and convicts them. Please keep this on the front burner FOX6. We really need to know how it turns out. If they get off scott free then we will know something is up and someone is getting paid off.

  • Ann Willliams

    Nice. When a similar incident happens elsewhere, the victim just suffers. I’m glad she got the attention. I’m facing the same situation and am blocked every time I try to file a complaint.

  • Red Thompson

    Talk about IRONY! This is frm the form for filing complaints against deputies with the Milwaukee Co. Sheriff’s Dept. And they whine thst people don’t trust cops – prosecute the ones who are criminals and liars, and maybe things will start to change. Until then, we meet the definition of “police state.”

  • Bill De

    Anyone else notice when the cop who is claiming disability from this is walking with a cane but completely incorrectly and putting 100% of his weight on the supposed “BAD” leg without the cane? What a joke!

  • brian

    I think there are two stories here. The one that is probably driving the attorney to run the lawsuit, and the one of possible wrong on the part of one (or more) officers. It may be the part of this about Sheriff Clarke talking about things that make some politicians very uncomfortable is probably the reason the politician’s friends the attorneys decided to find something against Clarke’s department. IF there actually was something wrong here it will be one of the first times someone looking for dirt to throw actually helps someone.


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