Statement from WI Attorney General Brad Schimel

Mar 9 2015
Statement from WI Attorney General Brad Schimel
 
Attorney General Schimel outlines officer-involved death investigation process
 

As the community awaits information in the officer-involved shooting in Madison on March 6, I want the public to be aware that the Wisconsin Department of Justice is expeditiously working to complete the investigation. Because officer-involved incidents involve considerable resources, we have assigned teams of agents from the DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation offices around the state to work on this case.

 

It is critical to the integrity of all investigations that we take great caution to avoid tainting the statements of witnesses who have not yet been interviewed. If details of the investigation are shared with the public, then the veracity of any subsequent statement could be questioned because it would be impossible to determine whether the statement was informed by the media coverage rather than the witness’s personal observations. In an investigation like this, it is not unusual to have witnesses who don’t come forward immediately, so occasionally we hold critical facts in a confidential manner to preserve the integrity of those witness statements.

 

Wisconsin was one of the first in the country to legislate a policy for investigation of officer-involved deaths. 2013 Wisconsin Act 348 requires “an investigation that is conducted by at least two investigators… neither of whom is employed by a law enforcement agency that employs a law enforcement officer involved in the officer-involved death.”

 

DOJ and county officials are working with Mr. Robinson’s family. The law specifies that the lead agency in an officer-involved death investigation provide the family of the deceased certain information that relates to their rights and their access to information in such an incident. In this case, we immediately took steps to reach out to the family of the deceased to initiate ongoing contact with them throughout the course of the investigation. We provided them with as much information as possible without jeopardizing the quality and integrity of the investigation. Our practice is to meet with the family with the assistance of crime victim and witness coordinators.

 

It will be the Dane County District Attorney’s responsibility to review the facts and then to issue a public statement concerning his conclusions. The role of the Department of Justice is to obtain the facts and present them to the district attorney for his consideration.