- Victims all claim similar attacks which saw Officer Vagnini perform searches on their privates while other officers refused to intervene
- One victim claims gun was put to his head during strip-search
- Another victim ‘was told he would be freed if he defecated into a box’
By EDDIE WRENN
PUBLISHED: 04:15 EST, 10 October 2012 | UPDATED: 11:52 EST, 10 October 2012
Officer Michael Vagnini, one of the four men accused of illegally strip searching and sexually assaulting nearly a dozen people over a two-year span
Four Milwaukee police officers illegally strip searched and sexually assaulted ten men in two years, a court was told.
According to a criminal complaint, ten men, identified only by their initials, told prosecutors the officers searched them between February 2010 and February 2012.
Prosecutors say the stories are strikingly similar: The men allege that Officer Michael Vagnini stopped them, placed his hand down their pants and probed their anus or shifted their genitals, saying he was looking for drugs.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm charged Vagnini with 25 counts, including conducting an illegal strip search, misconduct in office, sexual assault and conducting an illegal body cavity search.
Chisholm also charged Jeffrey Dollhopf with conducting an illegal strip search, conducting an illegal body cavity search and two counts of misconduct in public office.
Brian Kozelek was charged with conducting an illegal strip search and misconduct in public office.
Jacob Knight with conducting an illegal body cavity search and misconduct in public office.
One of the victims testified under oath that officers stopped him in July 2011.
Vagnini pinched his anus, causing him to yell out ‘Man, what are you doing? Don’t touch me like that! You can’t be doing that!’ Vagnini replied with words to the effect of ‘Be a man and give it up.’
Vagnini is accused of taking the man to a room in a district police station, throwing a box in the room and told him if he defecated once in the box he would let him go.
Milwaukee Police officers Jacob Knight (left) and Brian Kozelek, two of the four accused of illegal strip-searching
Officer Jeffrey Dollhopf exits after his initial court appearance in Milwaukee County Circuit Court
The man tried to comply, investigators said in the complaint, but couldn’t and was released with a ticket for driving with a suspended license.
Officers Dollhopf and Kozelek were in the room but did nothing to stop the proceedings and didn’t report Vagnini to a supervisor, the complaint said.
A similar scenario allegedly took place that September, when Vagnini took a man he stopped to a room in the same police station after saying ‘I want to see what he’s got in his butt.’
He allegedly inserted his finger into the man’s anus, prompting the man to call out ‘This ain’t right! Call my attorney!’
Milwaukee police Chief Ed Flynn addressed the media on the charges against four Milwaukee police officers
Vagnini then allegedly told the man to get the drugs out on his own, gave him a garbage can and had the man push the drugs out and place them into the can.
The complaint did not specify what type of drugs the man was hiding but said Dollhopf and Officer Jacob Knight were in the room and didn’t try to stop Vagnini or report him.
Another victim testified that, in February, Vagnini saw him coming out of his aunt’s house, cuffed him, and then searched his anus.
When the man tried to pull away, Vagnini put him in a chokehold. Two officers held his arms and one pressed a gun to his head, the victim said.
Chief Edward Flynn is under fire following the charges.
He told reporters on Tuesday: ‘Quite frankly I’m disgusted by the willful action of some of the officers of our police department.
‘And I’m appalled by the willful inaction of some other officers in our police department in failing to stop egregious conduct. There’s no justification for this.’
Asked if he would quit, he said: ‘The test of the agency isn’t whether or not an act of misconduct occurs.
‘It’s how the agency responds to it. And this agency responded at every level of the organisation: effectively, rapidly and directly.’