MILWAUKEE — An off-duty Milwaukee police officer accused of assaulting photographers during a protest last summer was charged with misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct on Wednesday.
If found guilty, Matthew Willmann could spend one year behind bars and face up to $11,000 in fines. After the alleged attack became known, Willmann was placed on a 45-day unpaid suspension in connection to the incident.
The criminal complaint released Wednesday states that Willmann, while off duty, was visiting a bar with his wife and others on July 5 in the 1000 block of North Old World 3rd Street.
When a group of protesters started marching past, some of whom were expressing negative words about police, Willmann's wife got up, shouted words at the crowd and tossed her cup of beer towards them, the complaint states.
Protesters then approached the couple angrily. According to the complaint, that's when Willmann began swinging his arms towards one person who was photographing the march. The photographer later told investigators Willmann appeared intoxicated and angry.
At one point, Willmann struck the photographer's camera, causing it to fall to the ground, damaging it.
Willmann and his wife started heading back to the bar they were at, shouting words at the crowd along the way. Another photographer was standing by, using a large camera. The complaint states Willmann approached her and struck her camera as she was holding it to her face, causing the camera to hit her. That photographer later told investigators she suffered injuries consistent with a concussion, the complaint states.
Willmann later told investigators that he "swatted" photographers to stop them from taking photos of him and his wife.
Willmann has worked in the Milwaukee Police Department for 14 years.
He will be in court for his initial appearance on Feb. 24.