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Madison officer under internal investigation over not wearing mask

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison Police confirmed Monday an officer is under an internal investigation after a video surfaced showing her, without a mask, confront a citizen who was recording officers' interaction with a teenager earlier in the day.

Mallory Saurer posted the video to social media; as of Monday evening it had accumulated more than 48,000 views and had been shared nearly 1,000 times. Saurer said she pulled over near the UW Credit Union on Northport Drive when she saw the two officers questioning a Black teenager.

"My intention was simply to stand there and be an observer, especially because a young person was involved,"

Just seconds after the video Saurer posted begins, one of the officers walks up to Saurer and is just a few inches from her face explaining the reason they're talking to the teen. Saurer can be heard telling the officer to back up because she's not wearing a mask.

"All I wanted to know was why was the young man being stopped and was he under arrest? And within seconds, and you see in the video, the police officer was up in my face and she didn't have a mask on," Saurer said. "She was within a couple inches of my face."

Madison Police Public Information Officer Joel DeSpain confirmed the officer, whose name MPD has not released, is now under an investigation by the department's Professional Standards and Internal Affairs unit. DeSpain confirmed department policy during the COVID-19 pandemic requires to wear a mask when having conversations with citizens in close proximity.

"I've been in quarantine almost this whole time," Saurer said. "It's the closest I've been to anyone other than my husband. It was intense."

DeSpain could not immediately confirm why police were questioning the teen but the officer in the video said they were investigating four complaints of a man exposing himself in the area. By the end of the video, the teen is not arrested and appeared to walk away from the encounter on his own without any type of citation.

"If she had just told me 'this is what's going on,' I would've said 'cool,' I would've stayed until the interaction was over," Saurer said. "I would not have posted it to Facebook and it would've been done."

Saurer confirmed she filed a complaint with MPD over the officer's conduct. She added she complimented the other officer, who was wearing a mask, on handling Saurer's presence in a less confrontational manner.

"I understand police are under a tremendous amount of pressure right now, I get that," Saurer said. "And as a public school teacher, that isn't an excuse for losing your cool."

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A. J. Bayatpour

Reporter, WKOW 27

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