MILWAUKEE -- A jury began deliberations Monday, Feb. 26 in the trial of Devon Kraemer, the Brown Deer police officer charged in connection with a March 2016 on-duty shooting. The case went to the jury after the two sides finished their closing arguments Monday afternoon. The jury did not reach a verdict Monday evening and will resume deliberations Tuesday.
Police can use deadly force in Wisconsin if faced with "imminent death or great bodily harm." Kraemer said that was her fear when she shot Manuel Burnley Jr. once in the back. The jury has to decide whether that's what a "reasonable and prudent" officer would have done.
Burnley was unarmed when Kraemer shot him. She said she fired her gun because she and another officer were struggling to restrain him when Burnley moved his hand near his waistband.
"Ms. Kraemer, you can be mistaken, but were you reasonable at the time?" said Michael Steinle, Kraemer's lawyer, arguing the jury needs to only consider Kraemer's mindset during the struggle with Burnley.
"Resisting an officer is not a death penalty offense in Wisconsin," countered Assistant District Attorney James Griffin.
Griffin and Steinle made one last pitch before the jury began deliberating. After the two alternate jurors were sent home, the makeup of the deliberating jury is six women and six men, 10 white and two black jurors. That jury must decide whether Kraemer committed a crime on March 14, 2016. That's the day she shot an unarmed Burnley once in the back during an attempted arrest.
"There's another cop right there. He doesn't shoot anybody," said Griffin, referring to Officer Michael Leeman, who responded with Kraemer to a disturbance on a Milwaukee County Transit System bus that day.
Burnley cussed out the driver over a fare dispute and refused to get off the bus.
"It is what is in Devon Kraemer's mind that you have to look at. Not at the tape. Not playing Monday morning quarterback," said Steinle.
Steinle said Burnley escalated the situation by resisting arrest. Steinle argued Burnley's 370-pound frame posed another threat, adding Kraemer didn't know at the time it was Leeman who tripped Burnley, causing all three to fall.
"'I think it's Burnley. Burnley's taking me down,'" Steinle said, paraphrasing Kraemer's earlier testimony. "If you can reconcile that with what she believes, and I think that's undisputed in this case, you should do so and find her not guilty."
Kraemer testified she shot Burnley because he reached toward his waistband. She said she was exhausted, calling it a fight for her life, something Griffin dismissed in his closing argument.
"This isn't even a fight! My God, I had a seventh-grade fight with Bobby Schneider that was worse than this. Fights are punches, kicks, hair pulls, violence. This is just a guy resisting," said Griffin.
There are three possible verdicts the jury can return:
- Guilty of aggravated battery with intent to cause great bodily harm
- Guilty of a lesser charge - aggravated battery with intent to cause bodily harm
- Not guilty