UPDATE (WKOW) — Madison’s police chief is responding to a report of excessive force by officers trying to subdue a teenager.
On Thursday, Chief Mike Koval said use of force is never the first option in resolving conflict.
“There are a range of options. The officer is trained to best get control of the subject, ” Koval said. “Not to punish, not to be excessive, but to find that sweet spot where you have just enough measures exerted to get to that desired outcome of maintaining control.”
Chief Koval said the department is actively investigating the allegations, and is seeking to do the following:
- The employee who applied the spit hood and delivered strikes during the incident will be placed on restricted duty.
- Direct the Records Section of MPD to compile all reports that have been completed regarding this incident and perform any required redactions to respect individuals’ privacy while providing access to the substantive elements of all of the circumstances surrounding this incident.
- Once the MPD Professional Standards and Internal Affairs investigation is complete, seek the assistance of an outside agency to review the incident.
- Share all police reports with the District Attorney’s Office, at their request.
MADISON (WKOW) — The Madison Police Department is investigating after a complaint was filed with the department Monday alleging excessive use of force by officers trying to subdue a teenager. Home surveillance video of the incident was provided to police and the department opened an internal investigation.
That video made its way to social media and prompted Madison’s mayor and city council to respond. Mayor Rhodes-Conway and council leadership issued this statement:
“We expect a fair and thorough investigation of this very disturbing video. The key to public confidence in the integrity of the investigative process is full transparency after the fact. We are committed to a higher level of transparency and taking a proactive, problem-solving approach to the difficult issue of handling mental health crises.”
In a post on the police department’s website, police acknowledged the incident, confirmed an investigation and provided a brief description of events.
“On Monday afternoon, MPD West District Command Staff were contacted regarding an allegation of excessive force used by MPD officers during an incident earlier in the day,” police said. “After taking a statement from the complainant, the incident was turned over to MPD’s Professional Standards and Internal Affairs Unit. The complainant provided video of the incident and an internal investigation has been initiated.”
Police said officers worked with Journey Metal Health to determine a 17-year-old boy exhibited “threatening behavior, consistent with someone in a mental health crisis.”
Officers knew the teen was committed for mental health and decided to put him into protective custody in order to take the boy to a hospital for evaluation, police said.
“As the officers moved to take the subject into custody, he refused to comply with their requests and subsequently resisted handcuffing,” police said.
During the struggle, according to police, an officer “suffered injuries to a thumb and rotator cuff.”
Officers also tried to place a mesh spit hood on the teen to protect themselves from fluids, police said.
“One officer delivered several strikes during the encounter in an attempt to gain control of the subject,” police said. “The subject reported no injuries to medical personnel and had no visible injuries at the time of the encounter.”
Officers got the teen under control and took him to a hospital, police said. The boy was medically cleared and transported to Winnebago Mental Health Institute in accordance with the terms of his commitment.
Brandi Grayson, a community activist with Urban Triage, has been circulating the video on social media. She said she’s been in touch with the young man’s family and obtained permission to share it to send their message that this never should have happened.
“We know through this incident that they escalated the situation that they caused more harm than good and it was unnecessary and could have been avoided,” Grayson said.
She said the family told her the teen had come home from West High School because he had a similar outburst there and police were supposed to take him to the hospital to get help. After watching the video of the confrontation, Grayson said it confirms her belief that in cases like this a mental health professional, not a police officer should come to deal with the situation.
“MPD is aware that a video reflecting part of the incident is circulating on social media, and is releasing this information in an attempt to provide context and keep our community informed,” police said. “MPD’s internal investigation into this matter is continuing.”