Dashcam video released after traffic stop; man who said racial comment hasn’t been identified

MILWAUKEE -- Dashcam video of a high-risk traffic stop near 6th and Walnut in Milwaukee Sunday, Aug. 19 that ended in community outrage and confusion was released on Monday.

This all started around 3:15 p.m. Sunday, when deputies were assisting Milwaukee police with a call.

Several community members were watching as the traffic stop unfolded. Many of them captured the incident on their mobile phones, but in one video, a racial comment was made -- and many people were upset with who they thought said it.

 

Traffic stop at 6th & Walnut, Milwaukee

Acting Milwaukee County Sheriff Richard Schmidt

As sheriff's deputies pointed guns toward a car at the scene on Sunday, cellphone cameras were rolling.

"Why are your guns drawn though?" one person was heard yelling in the video.

"Because you're not white," said another person.

The video spread quickly on social media, and prompted the acting sheriff to speak out Sunday night. Many people were under the impression that a law enforcement officer said "because you're not white."

"I'm thoroughly convinced that none of my officers were involved in making an unprofessional or racially-motivated type statement. There's no reason to be outraged if you know the truth. There is no cause that any of one our officers involved in this incident made any such statement," said Sheriff Richard Schmidt.

The dashcam video shows a red car that was at the center of the traffic stop zoom by, reaching speeds of 85 miles-per-hour before deputies took off after it. Forty seconds later, the video shows the red car ran a red light before the driver pulled over. The deputies drew their guns as the suspect put his hands out the window.

Schmidt said the suspect did not get out of the vehicle as instructed.

"When you're going to drive crazy, when you're going to put the public at risk, you have to expect the police have to protect themselves. They can't just go out there and walk up to a car and not know if they're going to get shot or not. They've got to protect themselves from the public," Schmidt told FOX6 News Sunday.

The racial comment captured in the cellphone video is hard to distinguish in the dashcam video.

"That statement, on itself, caused tremendous unrest, specifically within the African-American community," said Schmidt.

Schmidt said one of his deputies on scene identified a white man with long facial hair who they believe said the comment. One woman told FOX6 News she was standing next to the man who said it.

"It was an older gentleman, about 65, that was alongside of me. I don't know why he would say that. He just wants to bring up trouble, I guess," said Kerry Gruentzel.

Kerry Gruentzel

"I think in this case, your lack of cooperation initially caused some initial overreaction on our part," a law enforcement official is heard telling the suspect in the dashcam video.

"Our officers are trained. It's time to pull the weapons out. We don't know what's in the car," said Schmidt.

The 26-year-old driver was released to his father at the scene.

Sheriff's officials said late Monday that the person who said the racial comment hasn't been identified.

"Everybody went home safe. No one was harmed and for that, I'm thankful," said Schmidt.

Schmidt said he wants everyone in the African-American community to feel safe, and that's why he addressed this matter so quickly. He said, had the comment been made by one of his deputies, they would have been suspended immediately.