RACINE — The jury trial for Brinelle Nabors, the Racine Police Department officer charged with using excessive force against a Park High School student three years ago, has been set for Aug. 28.
Monday’s proceedings before Racine County Circuit Court Judge Mark Nielsen took less than five minutes.
Nabors has been charged with a felony count of misconduct in public office, and misdemeanors for battery and disorderly conduct. He has pleaded not guilty.
The special prosecutor is Kenosha District Attorney James Kraus. Nabors is represented by Racine criminal defense attorney Patrick Cafferty.
Nabors was put on paid administrative leave from the Racine Police Department following the 2015 incident. Since then Nabors has been paid more than $160,000, according to city records The Journal Times received through an open records request.
When asked about Nabors’ current employment, Racine Police Chief Art Howell said, “I cannot speak for the city attorney or the RPA (Racine Police Association) regarding this matter; however, I am aware that a number of factors are being researched and evaluated based on prior cases in the state.”
Todd Hoover, president of the Racine Police Association, confirmed the case is under review but declined to elaborate.
Nabors served in the military before joining the Racine Police Department in 2012. He had been a student at Park High School and also previously worked there as a school liaison officer.
He faces up to 3½ years in prison for misconduct in public office, up to nine months behind bars for battery and up to 90 days in jail for disorderly conduct, as well as up to $21,000 in combined fines.
Nabors, working off-duty at Park High School, reported taking a 14-year-old student into custody for bringing drugs to school on Nov. 20, 2015.
Nabors said he observed the student with “lean,” a mixture typically containing codeine-based cough syrup, soda, candy and sometimes alcohol. The student and his family said the drink actually was juice.
Nabors reportedly handcuffed the student but later hit him in that face and held him against a locker. Nabors said the student was showing signs of resistance, which prompted Nabors’ response, although fellow law enforcement disagrees.
The Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office reviewed video surveillance footage of the incident and concluded Nabors had acted in “an excess of the lawful authority of a law enforcement officer.” Another Racine police officer who witnessed the incident was interviewed by the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation. That officer reportedly said the student had not shown “any physically threatening body language.”
The student claimed multiple injuries resulting from the encounter, mostly to his head and face.
The student’s lawyer, Madison-based Amy Scarr, reported that the charge against the student for felony threatening to cause bodily harm to an officer and misdemeanors for obstructing an officer, resisting an officer and disorderly conduct were dropped.
“He was charged with criminal conduct that he did not commit,” Scarr told The Journal Times last summer. “He didn’t do anything to deserve the treatment he got from police officers.”
The City of Racine settled for $400,000 with the student in 2017.
A story published in Tuesday's edition of The Journal Times included an incorrect year for the city's settlement with the Washington Park High School student who was arrested by Brinelle Nabors and was missing one of the charges that was dropped against the student. The error has been corrected.