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Exclusive interview with crash victim who is suing Sheriff Clarke and four deputies

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- It's been life-changing.

That's how a Franklin woman describes the crash that broke her neck, her bogus arrest for drunk driving, and the FOX6 investigation that exposed a deputy's changing story. Now, FOX6 Investigator Bryan Polcyn has an exclusive one-on-one interview with the woman who is suing the sheriff.

Tanya Weyker says all she ever wanted was an apology.

Instead, the 25-year-old Franklin woman is now the plaintiff in a federal civil rights lawsuit against Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, three of his deputies and one sergeant. And she is still adjusting to life in the spotlight.

"It's just been a whirlwind, to say the least," Weyker said.

She may be young, frail and soft-spoken, but it's clear by now that Tanya Weyker is no pushover.

"So many people said how I inspired them."

The childhood cancer survivor was an unknown, 24-year-old college psychology student until fate, quite literally, struck her broadside.

"My life was changed forever," she said.

Weyker is now the plaintiff in a federal lawsuit accusing Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and four other deputies of engaging in the "cover-up" of a crash that left her with both physical and emotional scars.

"I'm getting better each and every day. Some days are worse than others," Weyker said.

It was February 20th, 2013.

Weyker was driving past Mitchell Airport when a Milwaukee County Deputy Sheriff rolled through a stop sign, clipped the back quarter of her car and sent it spinning out of control into a tree.

The impact broke her neck in four places.

But it's what happened after the crash that would eventually land her picture on the front pages of newspaper and television websites across the country and even halfway around the world.

"I just don't understand why it was blamed on me, " Weyker said.

She admitted to having a few sips of a friends mixed drink.  And to taking Vicodin for dental work a week before the crash. One investigator at the scene wrote that her speech was slurred and her eyes were red and glassy.

"I explained to him my eyes were red and glassy because I was crying," she said.

Milwaukee Police declined to issue any citations, but Milwaukee County Deputy Sheriff Scott Griffin arrested her anyway for "Operating While Intoxicated."

"They made me into this criminal," Weyker said.

Blood tests would later prove Weyker had no alcohol or drugs in her system.

The deputy who caused the crash was a 10-year veteran named Joseph Quiles. He wrote in his original report that he stopped completely and looked both ways before pulling out onto Howell Avenue, but video from an airport surveillance camera proved Quiles blew the stop sign.

"I wrote my reports, and that's about it,  Deputy Quiles said.quiles and polcyn

"Can you explain why you said you stopped completely?" asked FOX6 Investigator Bryan Polcyn.

"I have nothing further to say, sir," Quiles responded.

"Do you understand what Tanya Weyker's been through because of that?" asked Polcyn. Quiles did not respond, rolled up his window and drove away.

Drunk driving defense expert Andrew Mishlove says it was Deputy Quiles' false account of the crash that likely cast doubt on Weyker's sobriety.

"They never would've drawn her blood, they never would've arrested her," Mishlove said.

For nearly a year, Weyker tried to clear her name as the county sent letters threatening to sue if she didn't pay for the damage to the squad car.

polcyn with attorney

Drunk driving defense expert Andrew Mishlove says Deputy Quiles' inaccurate account of the crash likely played a role in the decision to arrest Weyker.

"She had to live with this hanging over her head for way too long," Mishlove said.

It wasn't until ten months after the crash that a prosecutor declined to file formal charges.

And Deputy Quiles finally admitted to internal investigators that he blew the stop sign.

Quiles was suspended for 9 days for damaging county equipment.

But he was not disciplined for filing a false report, even though the sheriff once tried to fire him for falsifying records.

In 2007,  Sheriff Clarke fired Quiles for having a fellow deputy- his girlfriend- complete and submit reports for him.

But the county's personnel review board called the firing "too severe" and reduced it to a 45-day suspension.

We've tried for months to get Sheriff Clarke's take on the case, but through a spokesperson, he declined.

clarke and polcyn

Sheriff David Clarke declined multiple interview requests, including an in-person attempt at Serb Hall during SeniorFest.

Now Clarke is named as one of the defendant's in Weyker's federal civil rights lawsuit.

"When an officer falsifies and commits perjury the way that this officer has done, it`s the Sheriff`s responsibility to investigate it," Attorney Jon Erickson said.

"I'm not sure how far up it goes, but we definitely want to find that out," Weyker said.

Weyker is still taking classes at U-W Parkside and says she is finally off her pain medication.

"In school, it's pretty hard to sit sometimes, especially in those hard chairs," she said.

Her neck will forever be fused.

Her mobility limited.

"She has suffered permanent physical injuries," Erickson said.

But the most significant casualty may have been her trust.

"I didn't expect this to happen at all, especially by the people I trusted most to protect me if I needed them," Weyker said.

The federal lawsuit seeks unspecified damages that would have to be decided by a jury. It is separate from Weyker's existing claim against Milwaukee County to cover her medical bills. That claim has a state cap of $250,000. There is no cap that applies in the federal civil rights case.

Deputy Quiles is still an active employee of the Milwaukee County Sheriffs Office, though he has not worked since the crash 17 months ago. His application for permanent duty disability is pending before the county. Attorney Rick Steinberg says he may soon be representing Quiles in the disability case. He says Quiles' own doctor has determined he is, in fact, disabled and unable to perform his duties as a deputy, at least for a while. Whether or not the county's doctor would agree remains to be seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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13 comments

  • marie

    Both officer Quiles and the Chief need to be fired without benefits including unemployment. How about having nothing and being the nothings you both are for assuming you are above the law. I hope her lawsuits drain your retirement accounts as well.

    • Richard

      The deputy should be fired, but the sheriff should not. Were you ever a supervisor or manager and have someone do something very bad? Should you have been fired, if so? The sheriff’s department has a chain of command and an internal affairs dept. An investigtion happens and proper accountability is delivered. If not, then you do what this woman is doing. Or is your approach to have Sheriff Clarke fired fueled by a dislike of his political stands? I’m sure this deputy is not someone he wants working there. But if you look at the history, he fired this clown for the exact same thing and it appears a liberal review board cut him some slack. Maybe you should be calling for their jobs instead! Had they stuck to the termination, this lying dirty cop would not have been in that patrol car, would not have run that light, and this woman wouldn’t be permantly injured! Oh yeah, and the tax payers wouldn’t be looking at paying disability for this lying disgrace of a human (deputy). Since he is now playing that card to collect money for the rest of his days! He is a thug with a badge!

      • scott

        No The Sheriff shouldn’t be fired. But the deputy that hit her as well as the others that filed the charges for him should be fired. An earlier story states that they charged her with drunk driving 10 months after her test came back showing no alcohol or drugs in her system.

  • Kevin Gwidt

    Let’s go Clarke. You talk the talk now walk the walk and do the interview. At least say your sorry to the poor girl. You talk on how people need to be accountable well let’s see it it from the MAN WITH THE BADGE.

  • zraick

    Here is the deal. This lying cop, ran a stop and caused an accident which injured an innocent person. The damages should be enormous, but it will not be the cop who pays, but the taxpayer. This woman will never have the life she deserved because od what this low life cop did.

    The accident was bad enough, but to then lie about it, and further victimize the young woman is compounding the crime.

    This cop should be fired, everything he owns should be taken from him and go to pay the damages, and he should go to jail for at least 25 years.

    And whoever is responsible for threatening this woman and ordering her to pay for the damages should certainly be fired, and all compensation to that person needs to stopped, and perhaps a 5 year jail sentence would be in order.

    They tried to frame her. These cops are the same kind who would use a thrown down weapon the escape punishment for killing someone.

    Are we so complacent and affected with the normalcy bias that we are going to let this happen? For all those who consider themselves to be patriotic Americans and who would defend our country, I say, if you let this go unchallenged, you are part of the problem which is destroying our nation from within.

    We have to say no to the police and to the government which allows this.

  • James C. Walker

    If justice prevails, she will get a substantial settlement. Having police officers at fault in some incident that then lie to try to cover it up is a completely unacceptable situation. The officer should be fired for cause. Citizens have a right to expect complete truth from police officers, and less is unacceptable. The great majority of police officers are there to protect and serve and take their oaths of office very seriously. The bad apples have to be weeded out.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association

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