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I-TEAM: DOJ Use of Force Dashboard missing Milwaukee police custody death

Milwaukee Police UFAD
Posted at 6:29 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 10:04:41-04

MILWAUKEE — A Use of Force and Arrest Related Death (UFAD) Dashboard published by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) is missing an in-custody death from the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD).

The UFAD dashboard was published Monday by the DOJ with the goal of increasing transparency between the police and the public. It details 50 critical use of force incidents in 2021 that resulted in serious injury or death. Out of the 50 incidents, there were 24 deaths, 13 use of force related deaths and 11 arrest related deaths. It shows four of the 50 incidents involved MPD.

The dashboard shows reports will be collected whenever the following occurs:

  • An officer utilizes force that results in the death of a person
  • An officer utilizes force that results in the great bodily harm of a person
  • An officer discharges their firearm at or in the direction of a person
  • A person dies while detained, arrested, or in the course of being arrested

However, related to the data on a person dying when detained, arrested or in the course of being arrested, there appears to be a discrepancy with Milwaukee Police's reporting numbers.

On Dec. 8, 2021, Quievonta Moffett was arrested in connection to a drug investigation after a traffic stop. While he was in custody, he was twice taken to the hospital for medical attention after police believed he took drugs. After the second trip to the hospital, he was pronounced dead.

“We can look at that specific incident,” Attorney General Josh Kaul said. “I don’t know offhand, precisely what the reason that they didn't report that one was. When officers use force, as defined under state law, that’s what we’ve asked people to report.”

The Milwaukee Police Department told the I-Team, “As to why DOJ did not provide data regarding the 12/8/21 in-custody death, please reach out to them.”

The DOJ responded Wednesday afternoon that they are in communication with MPD about updating the dashboard with this information.

The dashboard data is an effort to increase transparency between the community and the police. Kaul says as of now, it’s too soon to draw any conclusions about policing in the state but he’s been impressed with the response.

"The biggest surprise, I think, is how responsive law enforcement agencies were,” Kaul said. “Our hope is that this will lead to a better informed debate about use of force issues in the State of Wisconsin.”

According to the dashboard, 96 percent of all law enforcement agencies in the state provided data. Of the 50 incidents, 87.5 percent were men, 60.4 percent were between 18 and 35 years old and 66.7 percent were white. The dashboard does not discern the racial demographics of who was killed versus injured by police.

“Use of force incidents appropriately get a lot of attention and scrutiny,” Kaul said. “This will allow for people to see the big picture and Wisconsin with respect to these incidents.”

Kaul says the real impact will be seen once more data is accrued to determine if there are trends and patterns that need to be addressed.

“I think it’s hard to draw any broad conclusions from just the numbers alone,” Kaul said. “This data will allow for analysts to look behind each of those cases and look to see whether there was anything about those cases they want to highlight or that merits further discussion.”

The Milwaukee Police Department was not available for an interview on this story, but support the collection of this data. It also pointed to its efforts at transparency by providing Community Briefings on critical incidents, like it did with Moffett in January.

An MPD spokesperson provided the following statement:

"As a department, MPD releases relevant information regarding critical incidents through our Community Briefing series to promote transparency and accountability with the public and to provide relevant information regarding these incidents. MPD’s goal is to continue to release relevant information regarding critical incidents within a reasonable amount of time after the incident unless releasing such information would jeopardize the integrity of the investigation. In addition, our standard operating procedure on use of force is publicly available."

One of the DOJ data points references a non-fatal shooting incident from October of 2021, where as many as five people were injured. Milwaukee Police said they exchanged gunfire during a press briefing, but never released a Community Briefing on this incident. The MPD Spokesperson says, "This was not a confirmed Officer Involved Shooting, therefore, a Community Briefing would not be created."

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