Prosecution, defense rests: Closing arguments in Devon Kraemer trial set for Monday

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MILWAUKEE -- Both sides have rested their cases in the trial of Devon Kraemer, the Brown Deer police officer charged with aggravated battery for shooting an unarmed man in March of 2016.

Throughout the morning, prosecutor James Griffin questioned Kraemer about why she felt threatened by a man who turned out to be unarmed. At times, it got a bit snippy.

Griffin: "'I'm gonna kill you, choke you, strangle you, beat you, bash your head in,' and so on and so on and so on, how many of those threats verbally came from Mr. Burnley?"

Kramer: "Zero, however-"

Griffin: "Zero is the answer."

Kraemer said there may not have been verbal threats but she believed she faced imminent death or great bodily harm -- the standard in Wisconsin for allowing the use of deadly force.

Kraemer was charged in connection with the March 2016 on-duty shooting of Manuel Burnley, who had been involved in a dispute over a bus fare. Kraemer faces one count of aggravated battery, use of a dangerous weapon.

On March 14, 2016, Kraemer and a fellow Brown Deer police officer, Michael Leeman, responded to the calls of a Milwaukee County bus driver who said a man was causing a disturbance on the bus. Kraemer and Leeman escorted Burnley off the bus and tried to arrest him. Kraemer said from the beginning from of the confrontation, she was scared of Burnley because of his size - 370 pounds - and his level of anger.

"Attempting to communicate and reason with him, I was absolutely terrified of him but, as a police officer, I had a job to do," Kraemer said.

Off the bus, Leeman tripped the suspect -- the two officers tumbled to the ground with him. As they were trying to arrest him on the pavement, Kraemer said it was a fight for her life.

Kraemer: "He was overpowering Officer Leeman and I."

Griffin: "Without throwing a punch, not a kick, not an elbow, not a scratch, not a hair pull, nothing."

Kraemer: "Sir, with all due respect, I don't need to take a punch to be faced with death or great bodily harm."

Kraemer fired a single shot into Burnley's back while he was down on his stomach; she said he moved his hand "purposefully" toward his waist. The prosecutor questioned why she then re-holstered her gun without checking Burnley for a weapon.

"At that point in time, Mr. Burnley began to go unconscious and then it became the priority of saving his life," Kraemer said. "I didn't shoot to kill him."

After Kraemer's testimony, the judge sent the jury home early. He decided that instead of fitting in closing arguments Friday afternoon, it would be best to have them Monday, Feb. 26, which will begin the third week of the trial.

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