Officers in strip search investigation will stand trial


(WISN)   Four Milwaukee police officers accused of conducting illegal strip and body cavity searches must now stand trial.

At the hearing, a lone internal affairs officer shared the stories of the victims, who said they were violated and humiliated by officers searching them for drugs.

Officer Michael Vagnini faces 25 counts, many of them felonies, accusing him of sexual assaults, illegal strip and body cavity searches and misconduct in office.

Jeffrey Dollhopf is charged with two counts of violations of the strip search law and two counts of misconduct in public office.

Click here to read the criminal complaint.Warning: Details of the complaint are graphic.

Brian Kozelek and Jacob Knight are each charged with one count of violation of the strip search law and one count of misconduct in office.

Prosecutors said Vagnini was the ringleader, and the other three officers didn’t stop him.

“He would’ve had to know that Officer Vagnini had not obtained the requisite permission to conduct that form or manner of a search. There’s no assertion that he had that knowledge,” Kozelek’s attorney Patrick Brennan said.

But the district attorney said simply being there and not objecting is enough for criminal charges.

“The fact that they never interrupted any of these acts or sought authorization to conduct these searches is indicative of their assistance of Officer Vagnini in conducting these unauthorized searches,” Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said.

The detective leading the investigation gave one example of many.

“He was stripped to his boxer shorts, and I believe he was wearing his T-shirt, and at that point, Officer Vagnini placed his hand inside (the man’s) underwear while he was cuffed and began trying to recover the narcotics,” Milwaukee police internal affairs Detective Justin Carloni said.
An attorney for some victims said after the hearing that they’re watching the case closely.

“Obviously, they want this to move forward. They want those responsible to be held accountable,” attorney Jonathan Safran said. “They always felt that no one was going to believe them.”

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