RACINE — Charges have been filed against a Racine police officer who is accused of using excessive force against a Park High School student in 2015.
Brinelle Nabors, 37, made his initial appearance in court Thursday. He is charged with a felony count of misconduct in public office and misdemeanor counts of battery and disorderly conduct.
According to the criminal complaint:
Nabors reported that on Nov. 20, 2015, he and another RPD officer attempted to take a 14-year-old student into custody because they believed he had a bottle containing a mixture of drugs and juice or alcohol.
While arresting the student, Nabors said the teen was “actively resisting,” yelling and making threats, pulling away and swinging his head as if to strike Nabors.
On Jan. 25, a special agent with the Wisconsin Department Justice of Criminal Investigation interviewed another Racine police officer, who said he watched Nabors and another officer escorting the student in question down the hallway in handcuffs.
The officer alleged that he did not see the student exhibit “any physically threatening body language” as he walked toward Nabors. The witnessing officer also reported that when the group was about 15 feet away from him, he saw Nabors punch the student one time with a closed fist to the right side of his face and the student’s knees buckled underneath him.
After that, the witness said Nabors used his left arm to hold the student up and guided him into the locker, something that he consistent with a “wall stun.”
The student denied threatening Nabors and said he was asking Nabors to pull his pants up. The student claimed to have injuries to his jaw, the back of his head, chin, back, neck and left ear from the incident.
A Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office attorney reviewed the surveillance video of Nabors escorting the student. The attorney claimed he did not see any instance of the student pulling away or swinging his head toward Nabors or any evidence that justified Nabors to use the level of force he used.
The attorney noted that a police officer striking a handcuffed person in custody without proper justification is “an excess of the lawful authority of a law enforcement officer.”
After the incident, the student involved was arrested and faced criminal charges, which were subsequently dismissed. In 2017, The City of Racine settled a federal lawsuit filed by the student for $400,000.
Nabors was placed on administrative leave from The Racine Police Department shortly after the incident. During the approximately 2½ years that Nabors has been on leave, he has reportedly received compensation of $160,985.88, according to city records The Journal Times received through an open records request.
During his initial appearance Thursday, Nabors’ attorney Patrick Cafferty objected to probable cause in the case, asking for the case to be dismissed, but Racine County Court Commissioner John Bjelajac ruled that probable cause existed.
Kenosha Assistant District Attorney and special prosecutor James Kraus asked the court for a signature bond in the case and no contact with the victim.
Cafferty asked that Nabors have a low signature bond, citing that Nabors is a military veteran and six-year veteran of the Police Department with no criminal record.
Nabors joined the Racine Police Department in 2012, following in the footsteps of his father, Maurice Nabors. Brinelle Nabors had previously been a student at Park High School and previously worked as a school liaison officer along with his father.
Nabors’ signature bond was set for $10,000. Conditions of Nabor’s bond include that he not have contact with the student or perform law enforcement activities at Park High School or any other school within the Racine Police Department’s jurisdiction.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 23 at the county Law Enforcement Center, 717 Wisconsin Ave.
Nabors faces up to three years and six months in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000 for the misconduct in public office charge, up to nine months in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 for the battery charge and up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000 for the disorderly conduct charge.
When asked about the status of Nabors’ employment on Thursday, Racine Police Chief Howell said in an email, “We just received, and are in the process of reviewing, the charging documents associated with this case. This information will be shared with the PFC (Police and Fire Commission) and the City Attorney, after which, next steps will be determined.”