Back in August 2006, Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) Detective Rudolfo Gomez, Jr. received a tip regarding illegal weapons. Based upon this information, Detective Gomez applied for and received a “no-knock” warrant, which allowed an MPD Swat Team to break into the house of the alleged suspect, Richard Betker. During the execution of the warrant, Mr. Betker grabbed his bedside gun when he heard people who he thought were intruders, but were in fact police officers, smash through the doors of his home. When Mr. Betker extended his gun into a doorway to show the “intruders” that he was able to defend himself, the police shot Mr. Betker, who sustained injuries to his hand and shoulder.
Following the incident, Mr. Betker and his wife sued the City of Milwaukee and several police officers, including Detective Gomez. The Betkers alleged that the defendants violated their constitutional rights and that Detective Gomez included untrue statements in the affidavit he submitted to obtain the “no-knock” warrant. The court dismissed all defendants except for Detective Gomez. On Wednesday, November 20, 2013, following a three-day trial, the jury issued a verdict, awarding the Betkers $1 million in damages. Because Detective Gomez was within the scope of his employment with the MPD at the time of the incident, the City of Milwaukee is liable for the $1 million jury verdict.
The incident with the Betkers is not the first allegation of misconduct against Detective Gomez. He is currently facing charges that he beat a handcuffed suspect at the Milwaukee Police Administration Building in August 2013. In addition, Detective Gomez was arrested, but not criminally charged, in 2012 for allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence. Also, attorneys for the woman charged in a fetal abduction case claimed that Detective Gomez questioned the woman improperly. While the investigation into the August 2013 alleged beating was pending, Detective Gomez filed for duty disability, claiming that he suffered a mental breakdown as a result of investigating the murders of children. As previously reported on our Blog here, several MPD officers facing investigations for alleged misconduct have applied for duty disability, claiming to suffer stress from the investigations.
The civil rights lawyers of Samster, Konkel & Safran congratulate the jury in the Betkers’ case for holding Detective Gomez and the City of Milwaukee accountable for police misconduct. We have represented and currently represent numerous victims of alleged MPD officer misconduct. We believe that it is important to hold police officers accountable, to prevent future instances of misconduct and to improve citizen trust in the police.