RACINE — The city could be responsible for reimbursing the cost of attorney fees of the Racine Police Department officer found not guilty of using excessive force, after also paying to settle a related civil lawsuit.
Officer Brinelle Nabors, 38, faced charges of felony misconduct in public office and misdemeanor counts of battery and disorderly conduct. He was found not guilty on each count in January.
During Nabors’ trial, attorney fees totaled $22,800, according to James Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association. Nabors was represented by attorney Patrick Cafferty, a Police and Fire Commission member since 2013.
Under Wisconsin statute, law enforcement officers who are exonerated of criminal charges they receive while in the line of duty are generally entitled to receive reimbursement of their legal fees.
The fee reimbursement would be in addition to settlement costs paid by the city to the alleged victim’s family. In July 2017, the city settled that case for $400,000 — $225,000 was paid by the city with the rest paid by the city’s insurer, Cities and Villages Mutual Insurance Co.
The issue of reimbursement is set to be referred to the city’s Finance and Personnel committee, which is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 22.
The Journal Times contacted the City Attorney’s Office on Monday to ask if reimbursement funds would be paid by the city or the city’s insurer. A response was not received.
On Nov. 20, 2015, Nabors was working as an off-duty security officer at Park High School, 1901 12th St., when he was told that a 14-year-old student reportedly had “lean” — a mixture typically made of codeine-based cough syrup, soda, candy and sometimes alcohol.
When the student was confronted, Nabors reportedly brought the student to the lunchroom floor and handcuffed him. A surveillance video surfaced that reportedly showed an altercation between the student and Nabors as they made their way to the school’s office, the criminal complaint stated.
After a four-day trial, a jury found that Nabors had not used excessive force in the situation and found him not guilty on all charges.
Shortly after the trial, the Police Department issued a press release stating that Nabors would return to active duty after he completed mandatory training and courses he missed while on leave.
He returned to work on Jan. 31, after more than three years on administrative leave. As of June 2018, Nabors was paid more than $160,000 during his leave.