Speakers at Kenosha Police & Fire Commission Call for Accountability, Dismissals

Sept. 19, 2023 3:10p

(WGTD)---The Kenosha Police Department’s investigation into the alleged excessive force incident that occurred at Applebee’s last summer is being reviewed by an outside agency, according to Chief Patrick Patton. 

"As the investigation sits, we have completed our reports internally and gave all of our videos, interviews and everything we had regarding the incident other than what our findings were to an outside agency for review," Patton told the Police and Fire Commission Tuesday. 

He also promised that all of the materials will eventually be released. "We are going to make sure we're as transparent as possible with this," he said. "There's nothing that's going to be held within our walls."

Patton also disclosed that the officer who appeared to punch the subject at Applebee's was almost immediately placed on administrative leave. As the investigation unfolded, a second officer was placed on leave for professional reasons, Patton said.

The incident was captured by cell phone video. 

At the beginning of Tuesday's meeting, commissioners heard from 18 citizens—most of whom called for the outright dismissal of the officers.

Anthony Davis is President of the Kenosha chapter of the NAACP. "The actions of the officers involved in this incident are an affront to our collective values and it's imperative that they are swiftly dismissed from their positions," he said. 

Speakers also referred to a second, unrelated incident, in which Det. Pablo Torres pushed and arrested a woman who had asked for his name and badge number. In a complaint filed with the Commission, Dionisse Molina said she was pushed into a wall and placed in a choke hold, a maneuver that's against department policy. Part of the interaction was caught on cell phone video. Torres over the years has drawn multiple use of force allegations. 

Somers Town Chair Mark Molinaro, who comes from a family of officers, was the only speaker who offered a full-throated defense of police. "What you have to do better, sir," directing his comments at Chief Patton, "what your department has to do better is defend yourself. Be heard, get out there and say 'damn it, this is not what took place.'"

Not so fast, said community activist Kyle Flood. "I understand that the Somers resident who's here is encouraging you to promote yourself and defend yourself...do not defend what's wrong," Flood said to a round of applause from the audience. 

Dionisse Molina, the woman who was shoved by Torres and detained, also spoke, although she didn't detail what had happened to her. 

Patton told her and the audience that he’s limited on what he can disclose in that case because Torres at the time of the interaction was investigating a sensitive crimes case. 

Grace Lutheran Church Pastor Jonathan Barker served on a mayoral task force that investigated police reform following the Jacob Blake police shooting in 2020. Barker said committee members were constantly assured that the department closely followed use of force guidelines and deescalation tactics. "There's no evidence to me that any sort of deescalation tactics are being utilized and that the use of force policy does not seem to be followed as well," he said.