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Man shot, officer on scene give testimony in Brown Deer police trial

The trial is likely to go into next week.
Posted at 3:50 PM, Feb 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-16 18:54:48-05

The prosecution continued to make its case Friday in the trial of the Brown Deer Police officer accused of shooting an unarmed, argumentative suspect nearly two years ago. 

28-year old Devon Kraemer is on trial for aggravated battery, use of a dangerous weapon, in connection with the shooting that injured Manuel Burnley Jr. on March 14, 2016. 

Burnley Jr. boarded an MCTS bus on Brown Deer Road and became argumentative after the driver told him about a change in policy related to bus transfers. 

The bus driver told investigators she continued along her route until she spotted a pair of Brown Deer Police squad cars parked near 60th & Brown Deer Road. The bus driver pulled over and flagged down the two officers. 

Kraemer and Officer Michael Leeman boarded the bus and talked with Burnley Jr.

According to investigators, Burnley Jr. remained argumentative and refused to comply with instructions from police as he was escorted off the bus.

 A struggle ensued in which Burnley Jr. and the two police officers all fell to the ground. At some point, Kraemer fired a single round into Burnley Jr.'s back. He was injured and lost part of a lung. 

Leeman spent all day Thursday on the witness stand and continued his testimony Friday. He said he feared his life was in danger while Burnley Jr. struggled with him and Kraemer and resisted handcuffs.

"I told Devon, 'Thank you for saving my life that night,'" Leeman told Kraemer's attorney Friday morning. "No one told you to say that?" defense attorney Michael Steinle asked. 

"No, sir," Leeman replied.

Prosecutor Jim Griffin asked Leeman during redirect why he didn't draw his firearm if he felt his life was threatened.

Leeman said he didn't think it was safe to take his gun out of the holster while he didn't have control over the suspect.

 Burnley Jr. weighed roughly 370 pounds at the time of the shooting.

Leeman weighed about 245 pounds on the day of the shooting. Kraemer's attorneys have said she weighed between 140 and 150 pounds.

Kraemer's lawyers have argued to jurors that she was worried for her safety as well as Leeman's when she fired a single round into Burnley Jr.'s back during the struggle off the bus.

Kraemer told investigators following the shooting that she thought Burnley Jr. might be armed or reaching for Leeman's firearm.

Burnley Jr. was never charged in connection with the incident. The state is expected to call him as a witness.

Friday afternoon, he took to the witness stand and told his side of the story. 

Burnley Jr. admitted to yelling and arguing with the bus driver, as well as the officers. 

He also said he never intended to harm anyone. 

"Did the officers ever threaten you?" asked the prosecutor. 

"No," Burnley Jr. replied. 

"Did you ever threaten them?" Griffin inquired. 

"No, I didn't," Burnley Jr. said. 

Burnley Jr. said he was taking the bus home from work because he had stayed at work late that day.  

"The police are telling you to get off the bus or get a ticket, right?" Griffin asked Burnley Jr. 

"Yes," he responded. 

"So why not just get off the bus?" Griffin asked. 

"I just wanted to go home," Burnley Jr. said. 

Burnley Jr. testified that, once off the bus, he remembered Leeman tripping him and all three people falling to the ground. 

He said he disagreed with statements from police that he was resisting arrest. 

"It wasn't me struggling. It was them struggling with my arms, trying to arrest me," Burnley Jr. said. He said his arms are short, and he believed officers were having a hard time getting them behind his back. 

Kraemer is currently on administrative suspension from the Brown Deer Police Department, according to Chief Michael Kass.

The trial is likely to go into next week.