MILWAUKEE — The trial of a Brown Deer police officer ended Wednesday, Feb. 28 without a verdict. Facing a hung jury, the judge declared a mistrial. Devon Kraemer was charged in connection with the March 2016 shooting of an unarmed man. It's now up to the district attorney here to decide if he wants to retry Kraemer.
On the 13th day of the trial -- and the third day of deliberations -- a letter from the jury Wednesday afternoon would be its last.
"We have tried to come to a unanimous decision. We have gone over everything again and still have a difference of opinion. At this point, we don't think any more discussion will change anyone's mind one way or another," said Milwaukee County Judge T. Christopher Dee as he read the letter from the jury.
The jury could not agree on whether Kraemer is guilty of aggravated battery. That was the charge after the March 2016 shooting in which Kraemer shot an unarmed Manual Burnley Jr. in the back during an attempted arrest. Burnley had caused a scene on a Milwaukee County Transit System bus, cussing out the driver over a fare dispute then refusing to cooperate with the police who told him to leave.
Kraemer said she shot Burnley because his hand moved toward his waistband while they were on the ground.
"I have an obligation now to sit down with that victim and the attorney and decide where they want to go," said Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.
Chisholm said he needs to meet with Burnley, James Griffin, the lead prosecutor for the trial, and Kraemer's lawyer before deciding whether he wants to retry Kraemer. Speaking with reporters in his office after Dee declared a mistrial, Chisholm said cases involving on-duty officers are almost always difficult for a jury.
"They're generally fairly close calls. That's what it comes down to.That's why the officers are trained to the level they're trained to, so they can make those fine distinctions but, at the end of the day, they're often split-second decisions," said Chisholm.
"You had two of the best lawyers in the state of Wisconsin trying this case (Griffin and defense attorney Michael Steinle.) Each side had experts that supported the other’s position and, ultimately, it’s up to a jury to make these difficult decisions and they weren’t able to do that at this time."
Kraemer's lawyers and Kraemer herself declined to comment Wednesday. The jurors also did not want to talk on their way out of the courtroom. Chisholm said he still needed to find out what their final tally was. He said that will also factor into his decision. A status conference was scheduled for April 9; Chisholm said Wednesday he did not know if he would make his decision by then.