A federal lawsuit filed last week against Milwaukee Police Department officers who allegedly assaulted people during the riots of 2015 has drawn attention from a handful of liberal organizations, including the Justice Department.
Milwaukee police officers, according to the lawsuit, “engaged in a pattern of violent conduct against peaceful protesters.”
The complaint filed last Friday by the National Lawyers Guild alleges that officers punched, kicked, choked and threatened people, including a 17-year-old boy who died after a baton struck him in the head in 2015.
It claims the officers also “engage in a systematic pattern of unlawful arrests and use of excessive force against the community.”
The lawsuit alleges that in 2016, the Milwaukee Police Bureau stopped a black male from a local bar after he failed to show up for an assignment.
According to the complaint, the man was taken to a police station and handcuffed to a desk.
He was allegedly asked by officers to put his hands behind his back.
The man was told he was not being arrested for being black, but for being “in possession of a weapon,” according to court documents.
He said the officers told him he was being arrested “because he was wearing a hoodie,” the complaint says.
When he was released from the police station, the complaint claims, the officer was seen dragging the hoodie off the man’s back, and “grabbing his face in a manner that would have left a bruise.”
A second lawsuit was filed in March against the Milwaukee police by a woman who said she was kicked in the stomach during a March 21 protest in front of a courthouse in downtown Milwaukee.
The lawsuit claims she was “severely injured and her right eye was damaged” during the March 21 demonstration, according the lawsuit.
The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin.
The ACLU did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Milwaukes police officers were also among the protesters arrested during the unrest.
Milwa police said the officer who arrested the woman was a “member of a squad that participated in the March 11 riot.”
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, who was hired by Flynn last year, did not respond to requests for comment by the Associated Press.
Milwuis police department has been under federal investigation for decades for brutality against minorities, particularly African Americans, but the investigation is still ongoing.
The city of Milwaukee is a major employer in the Milwaukee area.