MILWAUKEE, WI (WTAQ) - Four Milwaukee police officers were criminally charged Tuesday with conducting illegal strip searches of drug suspects.
The district attorney’s office filed 25 charges of sexual assault, misconduct in office, and illegal strip-searching against officer Michael Vagnini. He was the only officer to be charged with sexual assault, after a long investigation into reports that officers checked suspects’ cavities to see if they were hiding illegal drugs.
Officer Jeffrey Dollhopf is charged with two counts of illegal strip-searching, and two counts of misconduct. Officers Jacob Knight and Brian Kozelek face one charge of each.
The investigation began in March. At the time, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said his department was aware of possible sexual assault and civil rights violations for a couple of years. But he had waited for a pattern of abuse before launching an investigation.
At least seven officers and a supervisor were taken off the streets and given new duties as a result.
Seven people have filed notices against the city, claiming they were illegally stripped-search. At least three defendants had their charges dropped or reduced, after it was learned that drug evidence was obtained illegally.