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Body camera video of now-former MPD officers roughing up suspect sparks internal investigation

Posted at 8:28 PM, Sep 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-09 18:40:49-04

MILWAUKEE — Body camera video of two now-former Milwaukee police officers roughing up a suspect has set off an internal investigation within the department.

Supervisors at District Six discovered the video after a citizen captured the incident and complained about the behavior of the officers. TMJ4 News was tipped off about the incident and started digging.

On Tuesday, June 30, Officers Eric Ratzmann and Eric Fjeld were on duty as they looked for a robbery suspect.

The officers came across a man walking down an alley near S. 27th St. on the city's south side. In the video, you can hear the man ask why he's being handcuffed. Officer Ratzmann asks him why he took money from someone. The officers then stand him up and tell him to get in the back of the squad.

Officer Ratzmann then placed the man in the squad car. As he leaned over to buckle him in, that's when the man appeared to spit at Ratzmann.

"You just spit at me motherf****r! You motherf****r! You're dead," Ratzmann says in the video.

Instead of booking the suspect, the officers wrote the suspect a ticket and drove to the Rescue Mission on Wells St. When the squad car pulled over and the man got out, he apparently had dropped or thrown his ticket on the ground.

He refused to pick it up when officers asked, so the officers once again placed the man under arrest. While he was being arrested, the man appeared to spit on the officers again.

The officers were heard saying things like "If you spit at me dude, it's all over for you," and "shut your f***ing mouth we are going on a long ride dude, I can tell you that."

At no time did Fjeld's body cam capture him intervening in his partner's behavior.

Eventually, the officers let the man go on North 27th and Capitol, in a neighborhood he was unfamiliar with. Right before leaving, Officer Ratzmann said, "You better not talk s*** about BLM over here."

Following the incident, former police chief Alfonso Morales watched the video with other top cops within the department in disbelief. They launched an internal investigation.

"Their record is larger than most that come across our table on Tuesdays. And their record shows a pattern, regardless of it being founded or not sustained," Morales said at the time.

The internal investigation resulted in five charges against Ratzmann and four against Fjeld. One of those charges was lying on a police report.

Hours before the men were going to be served discharge papers, they both resigned.

Now, Acting Chief Michael Brunson is using this incident as an example of what will not be tolerated at MPD.

"One of the things I believe in learning from our mistakes as a professional agency so we've shown that video to our rank and file and to all of our personnel," said Brunson.

By resigning, the officers walk away with all of their accrued vacation, sick leave, and pension. Resignation is easier to explain than termination when looking to join another law enforcement agency.

TMJ4 reached out to the Milwaukee Police Association for comment Tuesday but did not hear back.

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