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Man shot, wounded by former officer after altercation on bus files federal civil suit

BROWN DEER — Manuel Burnley, who was shot and wounded during an attempted arrest in March 2016, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Village of Brown Deer and former Brown Deer Police Officer Devon Kraemer, who resigned in August 2018, months after the case was dismissed without a verdict.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for injuries sustained in the shooting March 14, 2016 and attorneys’ fees.

The lawsuit states on that March day, Burnley, who was unarmed, left work and boarded a Milwaukee County Transit System bus — paying $3 for the bus fare. There was then “a verbal argument” with the bus driver over a new bus policy which didn’t provide transfers to passengers who paid cash.

Manuel Burnley, Devon Kraemer

Eventually, the lawsuit said Burnley walked to the back of the bus, sat down and started talking on his phone. The bus driver called police “because she wanted Burnley off the bus,” and two squads soon arrived. After the driver honked the horn twice, Officer Kraemer approached and boarded the bus — speaking to the driver. Kraemer then requested that the other officer board the bus, and called Burnley to the front of the bus.

The lawsuit said Kraemer eventually ordered Burnley off the bus, threatening him with a $691 ticket for disorderly conduct and arrest if he refused. Burnley refused to exit without a refund of his bus fare. The lawsuit said without that “he would be stranded without a way home.”

At this point, the lawsuit said the other officer “grabbed Burnley by the right arm” and pulled him off the bus. Kraemer was holding onto Burnley’s left arm and Burnley walked off the bus. While standing at the front of the bus, the lawsuit said Burnley “placed both of his hands into the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirt” while speaking with the officers. The lawsuit said the officers did not express any concern, Burnley never threatened anyone on the bus and Burnley never displayed a weapon, stated he had a weapon or suggested he had a weapon.

Bus dispute with Manuel Burnley

The lawsuit said Kraemer told Burnley he was under arrest and grabbed her handcuffs. It said “due to Burnley’s large size and short arms, it was difficult for him to place his arms behind his back.” It said Burnley told the officers three or four time he wasn’t resisting arrest. The other officer then tripped Burnley, causing him to fall on his back onto the ground. Kraemer and the other officer also fell. As Burnley fell, the lawsuit said he placed his right hand into the front pocket of his sweatshirt in an attempt to protect his phone. As he fell, the other officer flipped Burnley onto his stomach. The officers then attempted to handcuff Burnley again, and the lawsuit said Burnley was trying to assist them. The lawsuit noted Kraemer claimed after she fell to the ground, she “became fatigued, experienced tunnel vision and no longer had the ability to hear,” and she “could not see what was happening” between Burnley and the other officer. Kraemer believed the other officer was incapacitated and she was alone in attempting to handcuff Burnley. That’s when she drew her gun, pressed it against Burnley’s back and fired once, striking Burnley in the upper back. The lawsuit said there was no warning that the shooting was going to happen, but Burnley said he did hear the word “Taser.”

The lawsuit said “at the time Kraemer used deadly force by shooting Burnley, Burnley did not present an imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm” to the officers.

According to the suit, at the hospital, it was determined Burnley suffered injuries to the upper and lower lobes of his left lung and a fracture to a rib. He was hospitalized for 12 days, and when released, the lawsuit said Burnley had rib fragments and the bullet still in his body. It said he has continued to receive physical therapy, medication and other medical treatment for his injuries, and that he has suffered “fear, anxiety, depression, flashbacks, nightmares and other sleep disturbances for which he receives counseling and psychological treatment.”

The lawsuit noted Burnley has been unable to return to work since the incident.

Shooting incident involving Manuel Burnley

It said Kraemer’s conduct was “objectively unreasonable, intentional, reckless, negligent and undertaken with malice and/or reckless disregard of Burnley’s constitutional rights and safety.”

The lawsuit said the plaintiffs were served with “notice of injury” and “notice of claim” in July and September 2018, respectively, and Brown Deer and the Brown Deer Police Department “disallowed the claim by failing to respond within 120 days of presentation of the claim.”

The lawsuit alleges Kraemer used excessive force, battery, negligence and negligent infliction of severe emotional distress, and indemnification by Brown Deer — and seeks a jury trial for punitive, compensatory and special damages.

Devon Kraemer’s trial ended on Feb. 28, 2018. Facing a hung jury, the judge at that time declared a mistrial. The jury could not agree on whether Kraemer was guilty of aggravated battery.

She resigned from the Brown Deer Police Department in August.

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