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Brinelle Nabors Trial

Brinelle Nabors, the Racine Police officer accused of using excessive force against a Park High School student in 2015, arrives for the start of his jury trial Tuesday afternoon in Racine County Circuit Court before Judge Mark Nielsen.

RACINE — Racine Police Officer Brinelle Nabors is poised to return to active duty after more than three years on administrative leave after he was found not guilty of using excessive force against a Park High School student on Nov. 20, 2015.

Nabors was found not guilty Friday after a four-day jury trial, and the Racine Police Department issued a news release early Friday evening which stated that Nabors will be reinstated, pending the completion of mandatory training and courses he missed while on leave.

“With the close of the administrative component of this matter, the members of the Racine Police Department look forward to the return, reinstatement and restoration of Officer Nabors,” the news release stated.

Reacting to the not-guilty verdict, Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association — the largest police union in the state, and which represents Racine’s police officers, said that “the (Racine Police) officers are relieved. They feel that this was the right result.”

Palmer wanted to make it known that the length of Nabors’ administrative leave (approximately 1,130 days) was not what Nabors desired.

“The amount of time Nabors was on leave was not of his own making. This case took an extraordinarily long time to get to trial,” Palmer said.

A number of factors played into the length of Nabors’ administrative leave.

First, there was a civil case filed by the alleged victim’s family in November 2016.

It didn’t end until July 2017, when the family settled 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.

After waiting for the civil trial to end, criminal charges weren’t filed against Nabors until May 9, 2018, more than about 2½ years after the incident.

The case was delayed further, Palmer said, by an overburdened legal system. The attorney representing the state also had to be brought in from outside Racine County to prevent conflict of interest. Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney James Steven Kraus led the prosecution.

“It reflects, perhaps, a shortcoming in our criminal justice system. Our district attorneys are tremendously overworked,” Palmer said.

Chief’s comments

Speaking about the length of time Nabors was on leave, Racine Police Chief Art Howell said Friday in an emailed statement, “Per established protocol and consistent with best practices established by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, it was procedurally appropriate to wait until the conclusion of criminal proceedings prior to revealing, or otherwise taking action on the internal component of this investigation.

“Had grounds for termination or other serious disciplinary action been established through the internal investigative process, formal charges would have been advanced to the PFC (Police and Fire Commission). No such grounds were identified through the investigative process; therefore, no formal complaint or referral will be advanced to the PFC,” Howell said.

However, Howell added that similar to promotions and general disciplinary actions, the use-of-force report and other documentation in connection with the investigation will be forwarded to the PFC for review and final disposition.

Additional training

Per a consultant’s recommendation, all Racine Police officers have received “updated training on subject control techniques” since the 2015 incident at Park, Friday’s news release stated.

“The objective of this training was to promote greater officer safety habits while maintaining effective subject management and control. All officers received updated arrest and defense tactics and subject control training as recommended,” according to the release.

A use-of-force expert who testified during the Nabors’ trial said that “the force used to maintain control of the subject throughout this encounter were determined to be ‘objectively reasonable’ under the given circumstances,” according to police.

“With the close of the administrative component of this matter, the members of the Racine Police Department look forward to the return, reinstatement and restoration of Officer Nabors.” Racine Police news release

“With the close of the administrative component of this matter, the members of the Racine Police Department look forward to the return, reinstatement and restoration of Officer Nabors.” Racine Police news release

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Reporter

Adam Rogan (SCHS '14, Drake U. '17) has been covering homelessness, arts & culture and just about everything else for the JT since March 2018. He enjoys mid-afternoon naps, loud music played quietly and social media followers @Could_Be_Rogan

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