On Monday, October 21, 2013, two Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) officers pleaded no contest to charges of disorderly conduct for their roles in the illegal searches of citizens. In addition, the officers agreed to resign from the MPD. As a result of the plea agreement, Jeffrey Dollhopf and Brian Kozelek each face up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 in fines. Prosecutors are recommending community service instead of jail time.
The Milwaukee civil rights lawyers of Samster, Konkel & Safran represent several of the victims of illegal strip searches and illegal body cavity searches conducted by MPD officers. Under Wisconsin law, strip searches must be conducted in private and body cavity searches must be conducted by medical personnel. The MPD officers involved in the illegal searches performed several strip searches out in the open and conducted body cavity searches themselves. For example, we represent one of the victims who officers forced to strip down and defecate into a box in front of several people at the MPD 5th District station. Former officers Dollhopf and Kozelek were present while this happened, and neither one either intervened to prevent the incident or reported the incident to a supervisor. Following Monday’s court proceeding, SKS Attorney Jonathan S. Safran told reporters that the resignations of former officers Dollhopf and Kozelek are important for the victims of the illegal searches, so that the “blue wall of silence doesn’t continue.”
In addition to former officers Dollhopf and Kozelek, former MPD officers Michael Vagnini and Jacob Knight have also pleaded no contest to criminal charges stemming for their roles in the illegal searches. We hope that these criminal convictions will deter other MPD officers from engaging in misconduct.