2 MPD officers accused of excessive force and illegal strip search

Suit names ex-cop charged in Sylville Smith death
Posted at 10:12 PM, Dec 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-27 14:55:48-05

A federal civil rights lawsuit filed Dec. 23 accuses two Milwaukee police officers of using excessive force and conducting an illegal strip search during an arrest back in April.

One of the officers at the center of this case is Dominique Heaggan-Brown. He is the same man charged with Syville Smith's death in a separate incident.

On April 15, Heaggan-Brown and another officer attempted to conduct an investigation at a Citgo gas station near North Sherman and W. Capitol Drive.

Ronnie Martin was sitting in the passenger seat of a car while the driver went inside the convenience store.

According to the lawsuit, the two officers pulled up behind the car Martin was sitting in. Martin believed the officers were going to ask him to move the car. Instead of waiting for police instructions or for the driver to return, Martin "slid over the console to the driver's seat."

Martin claims after making that move, Officer Peter Hauser opened the car door, grabbed Martin and threw him on the ground outside.

"Officer Hauser threw him (Martin) to the ground so hard, Martin briefly blacked out," the lawsuit claims. "Martin did not move from the ground or attempt to fight officers, but while Martin was laying on the ground disabled and stunned, Officer Heaggan-Brown and Officer Hauser tased him."

Just two days before Heaggan-Brown killed Syville Smith in a foot chase, attorneys for Ronnie Martin filed an excessive force complaint with the City of Milwaukee.

It's unclear what prompted officers to make contact with Martin in the first place, but the lawsuit alleges that Heaggan-Brown said he saw Martin putting drugs down his pants. However, Officer Hauser's turn of events contradict Heaggan-Brown's alleged statements. Officer Hauser "did not report seeing Martin's hands near his pants," the lawsuit states.

According to the lawsuit, no drugs were found following a strip search.

The Milwaukee District Attorney's Office reviewed the case, but no charges were ever filed against Martin related to the incident.

Martin's attorney's are now seeking unspecified damages related to civil rights violations and pain and suffering.

Heaggan-Brown remains in jail charged with Smith's murder as well as two other separate sexual assault cases. The Milwaukee Police Department terminated Heaggan-Brown in October. 

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