Milwaukee heads toward $450,000 settlement with bystander shot by police




  • In US
  • 2022-10-04 11:00:23Z
  • By Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A bystander who was shot by a Milwaukee police officer in September 2019 would receive $450,000 under a settlement agreement recommended by a Common Council committee.

Tari Davis was shot in the stomach by officer Nikolas Zens after a man who was being chased by police ran to Davis' back door. Neither Davis nor the suspect, whom Davis knew, were armed.

The Judiciary and Legislation Committee recommended approval of the settlement on a 3-1 vote Monday, with Ald. Marina Dimitrijevic voting against it.

"I'm objecting just on a protest vote," she said. "I'm sick of these."

She told the Journal Sentinel via text message that she was protesting the "ever-growing taxpayer funded settlements we have to continue to pay in this city involving the police department."

She pointed to another resolution before the committee Monday that included collectively more than $1 million in pending police-related settlements or jury verdicts. The largest were with Davis, a $386,000 jury verdict in another man's civil rights case and $250,000 for a crash involving a police squad car, according to records provided to the committee.

Ald. Michael Murphy said he'd support the settlement to avoid going to trial, but only with "great reluctance."

The Common Council is expected to take up the settlement at its Oct. 11 meeting.

A Milwaukee Common Council committee recommending approving a $450,000 settlement with Tari Davis, a man a Milwaukee police officer shot who was in \"close proximity\" to a suspect police were trying to arrest in September 2019.
A Milwaukee Common Council committee recommending approving a $450,000 settlement with Tari Davis, a man a Milwaukee police officer shot who was in \"close proximity\" to a suspect police were trying to arrest in September 2019.  

Milwaukee County prosecutors did not charge Zens in the shooting. District Attorney John Chisholm in a February 2020 letter to then-Police Chief Alfonso Morales wrote that there was no evidence to refute Zens' perception of a threat.

But the chief fired Zens shortly after the city's Fire and Police Commission issued a series of directives to Morales in July 2020, including that he release more information about the shooting.

Davis is the lead plaintiff in the federal civil rights lawsuit that names the city, Morales, Zens and 13 other members of the Police Department as defendants.

The complaint accuses police of violating Davis' constitutional rights by shooting him and then chaining him to a hospital bed and searching his phone.

It also states that police "proceeded to forcefully and violently slam" Davis' minor daughter to the ground and take her into custody without justification.

Attorney Verona Swanigan, who is representing the plaintiffs, declined to comment, citing the pending votes on the settlement at the city.

The shooting came after police tried to pull over Kevin Brown, then 22, for speeding through a flashing red light on Sept. 8, 2019, according to the criminal complaint.

A 19-minute, 14-mile chase ensued, reaching speeds of more than 80 mph on city streets, the complaint states.

Brown ultimately ran from his vehicle, and Zens fired after seeing Brown and Davis standing outside Davis' back door. Zens said he believed Brown was armed, the Journal Sentinel reported previously.

In a letter to the Common Council, the City Attorney's Office said it deemed settlement "expeditious" and recommended the $450,000 payment. That sum includes all fees and costs, according to the letter.

Contact Alison Dirr at 414-224-2383 or adirr@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter @AlisonDirr

Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel at jsonline.com/deal.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee heads toward $450k settlement with bystander shot by police

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