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Lawsuit alleges crash involving New Berlin Police officer caused traumatic brain injury

Court documents raise questions about the New Berlin Police Department's policies.
Posted at 6:43 PM, Mar 03, 2023

NEW BERLIN, Wis. — Jaylen Frier was stopped at a stop sign when New Berlin Police Officer Steven Dodson rear-ended him while distracted by his phone, according to a new lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Frier, who is represented by attorney B'Ivory LaMarr, suffered injuries including, but not limited to, a traumatic brain injury, a concussion and mental anguish, court documents said.

The lawsuit seeks $10,000,000 in damages.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that the crash that injured Frier was the third crash caused by police officer Dodson over the past several years. All of the crashes were due to distracted driving.

The lawsuit specifically names New Berlin Police Chief Jeff Hingiss and Former Police Chief Joe Rieder, claiming that they were the people responsible for upholding the department's policy that should have held Dodson more accountable.

A 2016 letter submitted to the court, which was sent to Dodson after his first crash in 2016, showed that the officer received a written warning. The letter indicated that "any further violations of this nature will subject you to more severe disciplinary actions, up to and including dismissal."

When Officer Dodson was involved in another crash in 2020, a written warning was issued in a similar letter with the same language.

The lawsuit said "this practice and policy allowed Dodson to drive again and stay on his assignment without providing due regard to the safety of others," and goes on to say "Chief Hingiss and Chief Rieder failed to see the danger of the affirmative actions they have turned into a practice and policy within the New Berlin Police Department."

The lawsuit claims that Dodson also received a written warning following the crash that injured Frier.

In the lawsuit, it's noted that there are several other crashes caused by other New Berlin Police Officers behind the wheel of squad cars in which the same type of written warning was given as a consequence.

TMJ4 News reached out to New Berlin Police to try and obtain an interview, but did not hear back as of Friday evening's deadline.

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