Nov. 17, 2023 3p
(WGTD)---While missteps were made, Kenosha police officers were largely justified in their handling of an investigation last summer that came to be closely scrutinized after a video surfaced that showed an officer repeatedly striking a man in the head while he was on the floor, according to the results of an investigation that were released Friday.
A packet of material included an eleven-minute-long video explanation from Kenosha Police Chief Patrick Patton, a separate news release, investigative statements and body cam video.
As previously reported, police were investigating a hit and run that occurred at Green Bay Rd. and Highway 50. Information from witnesses and employees of nearby Applebees led officers to the restaurant and a couple with a baby that had been seated at a table. All this, while the real suspect was hiding in the restaurant’s bathroom.
The patrons, 24-year-old Jermelle English and 22-year-old Shayna Boyd, refused to answer questions, even though it was later determined that they had no connection to the accident. Words were exchanged, scuffles broke out and the pair was arrested.
Frames from body camera video early on in the incident show English being questioned while the couple’s parked car is visible through the window.
Patton says the investigation of the couple would’ve been over had English simply pointed to the undamaged car.
Instead, the exchanges escalated, with officers eventually struggling to handcuff both English and Boyd.
A video shot by a restaurant employee shows an officer repeatedly striking English’s head as he lay prone on the floor.
Those strikes were delivered because English refused to put his hands behind his back, according to Patton.
Why did the couple refuse to cooperate? “Welcome to being Black,” said their attorney, Kevin O’Connor, in a phone conversation with WGTD Friday afternoon.
The pair became defensive “automatically” because they were being wrongly accused, O’Connor said. “They’re trying to pin something on them,” he said.
While the officers were fully justified in questioning and then detaining English and Boyd when they became disorderly, according to Patton, two officers who were involved in the fracas received suspensions. Officer Michael Vences received a four-day suspension after it was determined that “the initial force used by Officer Vences was reasonable but that he should have re-evaluated the effectiveness of those strikes and considered other options to overcome Mr. English’s resistance,” according to the news release.
Officer Luke Courtier was suspended for ten days because he failed to “decontaminate” Boyd after she was pepper-sprayed.
The release said both officers received additional training.
Meanwhile, misdemeanor charges that were filed against Boyd and English are pending.