MILWAUKEE -- Four Milwaukee police officers accused of taking part in illegal strip and body cavity searches of suspects will stand trial.
Michael Vagnini, Jeffrey Dollhopf, Brian Kozelek and Jacob Knight appeared in court on Friday, November 2nd for their preliminary hearing. The only one to take the stand, telling the judge about the accusations, was a detective in the Milwaukee Police Department's Internal Affairs Division.
Detective Justin Carloni provided the testimony and statements from a John Doe investigation that led to the charges.
"S.F.F. indicates that Michael Vagnini took him out of the squad car for a second search. And during the second search put his arm around his neck, pulled back on his neck causing him to lose control of his body. At which point Michael Vagnini put his hand inside S.F.F.'s pants, inside the underwear," said Carloni.
Detective Carloni cited police reports filled out by officers charged, indicating they did searches of suspects and in many cases, drugs were discovered hidden inside their bodies.
One suspect accuses Officer Vagnini of planting drugs on him.
Despite arguments that the other three officers did not take an active part in the illegal searches, the judge bound all four over for trial.
Attorney Jonathan Safran represents some of the victims who may be called to testify in the future.
"It's difficult to talk about. Ultimately, they want their stories to be told," said Safran. "They hope ultimately that they will be the ones to tell it. They obviously feel very strongly about the facts about what happened to them. Ultimately, they want the convictions and the ones that are responsible to be held accountable."
Officer Vagnini faces the longest list of charges; accused of being the main instigator in illegal anal cavity searches.
Attorneys for the other three officers argued while the three might have been nearby during the illegal searches, the fact they did not stop it or report it would not constitute a crime.
The judge rejected the arguments and all four will be back in court on Thursday, November 15th.
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