MILWAUKEE -- The controversial firing of former Milwaukee Police Officer Richard Schoen is now official. The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission on Wednesday, December 12th made its findings public, and commissioners signed the documents. This, after the Commission on Tuesday reversed its decision to re-instate Schoen after a 60-day suspension.
Schoen was fired by Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn after he was seen on squad car dashcam video punching Jeanine Tracy, a suspect, in the backseat of a squad car. Later, Schoen was seen pulling Tracy out of the squad car by her hair, inside a police district garage.
A 10-page document explains the reasoning behind the Commission's decision to first give Schoen a 60-day suspension, then discharging him.
Fire and Police commissioners say they took the allegation of excessive force very seriously, looking at Schoen's behavior on the dashcam video from September of 2011. Commissioners said they agreed with Chief Flynn that Schoen used excessive force -- punching Tracy, whom he arrested after she became combative during a traffic stop.
The next phase was more controversial: how Schoen should be punished. At first pass, a Commission panel reversed a decision to fire Schoen -- instead giving him a 60-day suspension. The documents state: "We see no affirmative desire on Schoen's part to cause injury -- angry and uncaring, yes, but not deliberately sadistic."
Schoen's record of service was important to the panel. The commissioners cited comments from Schoen's superiors over his nine years of service.
The documents make reference to Schoen's "calm demeanor at chaotic scenes," his use of "tactical communication skills to diffuse tense situations," his "excellent communication skills which he employs to manage disturbances and agitated subjects" -- and the panel reportedly thought Schoen's behavior seen on the dashcam video was atypical for him.
The panel also cited a 2008 case when another officer was given a 60-day suspension for kicking a handcuffed prisoner in the head.
Commissioners later changed their mind and discharged Schoen, based upon what they call "the good of the service" -- ultimately choosing to side with Chief Flynn's firing of Schoen.
Commissioners also mentioned a statement Schoen made after the commissioners reinstated him -- a statement that apparently concerned commissioners.
Commissioners never mentioned the public protests and outcry after Schoen was re-instated or whether that affected their decision, but it was after the protests that they gave the case another look.
With the commissioner's signatures, Schoen's firing was made official.
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