Shot in the hand: Man faces charges after retail theft, pursuit preceded officer-involved shooting

Michael Berson

DELAFIELD — Charges have been filed against a Waukesha man accused in connection with a retail theft that resulted in an officer-involved shooting in Johnson Creek.

The accused is Michael Berson, 46, who faces three charges:

  • Attempting to flee or elude an officer
  • Felony retail theft — intentionally taking greater than $500 to $5,000, as party to a crime
  • Felony bail jumping

This all began around 2 p.m. Thursday, June 28 at the Kohl’s store on Golf Road in Delafield.

According to a criminal complaint, police responded to that store for a report of a retail theft in progress. A loss prevention officer called authorities and indicated the suspects were two men and one woman who were potentially leaving the area in a U-Haul truck. The loss prevention officer said the suspects had loaded up a cart, and a male suspect gave the cart to the female suspect and then left the store — entering the U-Haul. The male suspect still inside the store met up with the female suspect in the junior’s department, as the u-Haul pulled up to the entrance of the store. The male and female still inside began to exit with the merchandise in the cart. The cart was recovered, and inside was $1,635 worth of merchandise.

Kohl’s store in Delafield

Police located a U-Haul van parked near the Kohl’s entrance, and an officer saw three people exiting the store — one of them the loss prevention officer, who was following a man and woman.

The officer activated his lights pulled behind the U-Haul. The complaint says the suspects looked at the officer and the woman took off on foot. The man jumped into the truck on the passenger side — and the U-Haul began moving forward. The officer tried blocking the U-Haul and it traveled in reverse. The U-Haul was eventually able to get around the squad and a pursuit ensued.

Police were not able to find the female suspect who fled on foot.

The pursuit continued onto Golf Road and Highway 83, and the U-Haul was blowing red lights, the complaint says. Due to a high volume of traffic in the area, the pursuit was terminated. The suspect vehicle merged onto I-94 from Highway 83. The officer was able to get a license plate number from the U-Haul truck — an Arizona plate, which came back to a stolen vehicle — stolen out of Milwaukee earlier in June.

A second pursuit began on I-94 westbound, with a Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy pursuing the U-Haul, which ultimately crashed in Johnson Creek. Berson, identified as the driver, was arrested. A passenger, a 40-year-old man, was also arrested.

The complaint says during the pursuit in Jefferson County, Berson was shot in the hand, and required assistance from deputies to exit the U-Haul.

Investigators spoke with the U-Haul’s passenger, who said he and Berson and a female suspect came to Kohl’s in Delafield to commit a retail theft. He said they were confronted by loss prevention and he got into the U-Haul before Berson drove away. He admitted they were pursued by law enforcement, the complaint says.

Berson made his initial appearance in court on July 2. A hearing was scheduled for July 6, and cash bond was set at $25,000.

The complaint notes that Berson has a pending case out of Waukesha County in which he’s charged with operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent and theft.

Online court records show his $250 cash bond was forfeited in May when he failed to appear in court. A bench warrant was issued. Cash bond was set at $2,500 on July 2 and this case will be part of his July 6 court hearing. This case was filed in November of 2017.