Unexpected police visit comes with a high cost
Karter Stank tried to fight City Hall, but lost.
Stank was part of a group of unlucky people who filed claims against the city after police executed search warrants in the wrong homes. When that happens, the homeowner is left with a bashed in front door and a substantial mess to clean up inside too. They usually also are left holding the bag for the bill to fix it.
Stank went to the Common Council's Judiciary Committee asking for $10,463.05 to pay for damages, including mental anguish.
"I almost got killed that day," he said, relaying the incident when he carried tools upstairs from the basement of his home on North 60th Street and was greeted by police officers pointing shotguns and shouting obscenities at him. The cops took him outside and made him kneel in his front yard for all his neighbors to see while they ransacked his house.
According to the warrant, police were looking for a black male named Anthony Lewis, who had a sawed-off shotgun. Stank is white. Police seized some antique guns, ammo and what they claimed was "cocaine base" from his house, but no charges were issued.
"I think they realized they had the wrong property, but they just started taking things," Stank said. "They just grabbed stuff all over my house. I feel I got robbed at gunpoint by the police department."
Stank said it took him nearly seven months to get all his stuff back.
"The MPD served the warrant in relation to firearms located in the claimant's residence. The items seized were directly related to the firearm issue. Since the use of force was authorized by state statutes and the MPD was acting within its sphere of responsibility, we recommend denial of this claim," reads the city attorney's office opinion.
Police said the warrant was based on the word of a "confidential informant" who has helped police confiscate guns in the past. The informant's tips were used to get 15 search warrants, the committee was told.
The parade of wrong search warrant executions left Ald. Jim Bohl looking for answers from a tight-lipped police representative.
"It sort of makes it look like we're running around playing cowboy," said Bohl, who called it "ridiculous" that the police can destroy a person's home under the guise of a search warrant and then know the city won't have to compensate the victim for the police deeds.
"If we had culpability for the cost of something, we'd turn around and do the due diligence of additional time," he said, adding that the current practice "has a raw stink of government abuse."
Out of left field, Ald. Joe Davis, a member of the committee and Stank's alderman, chastised Stank for not being an active part of his neighborhood. Stank has complained to Davis about activity at a store in his neighborhood, but claimed that Davis never returned his calls.
In accusatory fashion, Davis asked Stank if he knew drug dealers were operating in the neighborhood. Davis knows there are.
"If you haven't taken the proactive responsibility of reporting drug dealing in your neighborhood, then I consider you to be part of the problem," Davis told Stank.
That statement, seemingly unrelated to Stank's search warrant issue, drew puzzled looks in the room.
"I don't like your tone," Stank told Davis.
"You're going to have my tone," responded a heated Davis, who was then silenced by committee chair Ashanti Hamilton.
The city denied Stank's claim.
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I'm spending my vacation in Milwaukee this year, and coming about 4,000 mi to do it. City of Festivals doesn't seem particularly welcoming after reading this. May there be general public outcry and may it help.
Ald Joe Davis making national news. Disgusting actions by both Milw Police And Ald. He just needs to be voted out. from Digg.com http://digg.com/world_news/Police_destroy_wrong_house_sorry_you_pay
2nd half of story is about hydro dams????
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