RACINE COUNTY — A police sergeant was accused of sexual assault on the job, a sheriff’s lieutenant was accused of stealing money from a dead man, and two city officers have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars while on leave.
This relatively short series of revelations, controversies and so-called “problems with cops” made headlines throughout 2018, and collectively accounts for The Journal Times No. 6 story of the year. The stories chosen to be part of the top 10 are determined by The Journal Times news staff based on their impact on the community.
One of these stories actually started in 2015, when Racine Police Officer Brinelle Nabors was accused of using excessive force against a 14-year-old Park High School student. He was placed on leave, but has continuously been paid since December 2015 as his case slowly moves toward trial. After a series of delays, the trial is to finally begin Jan. 8.
A Journal Times records request revealed this summer that a second Racine officer, Sgt. Terrence “Terry” Jones, has been on paid leave since Jan. 3, 2017. Jones has not been charged with a crime, nor has the Racine Police Department revealed why he’s on leave.
State Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, a former Racine police officer himself, has since proposed changing state law to limit how long law enforcement can be on paid administrative leave.
In July, it was revealed that Lt. Chad Schulman of the Racine County Sheriff’s Office was under investigation for stealing money during an investigation into the death of a man. He resigned in October; his resignation was disclosed by Sheriff Christopher Schmaling in December. No charges have been filed in connection to the investigation.
Also in July, Matthew Baumhardt, a Burlington police sergeant and K-9 officer, was accused of coercing an intoxicated woman to perform sex acts on him while he was working. Baumhardt was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 1 and resigned from the force on Aug. 23. In September, he was charged with two counts of third-degree sexual assault and misconduct in public office.
Baumhardt pleaded not guilty and may be headed to trial. A status conference is scheduled for Jan. 28.
There were other police controversies during the course of the year.
On Jan. 17, two Racine police officers shot and killed Donte Shannon, who fled from police during a traffic stop. The incident sparked several demonstrations, but the officers involved in the incident were cleared of any wrongdoing. More on this story is coming later this week in the Top 10 stories of 2018 series.
In September, the Racine Police Department closed an investigation that found Tyrone Buckley had acted in self-defense in the death of 34-year-old Matthew Young, who Buckley stabbed during a fight in a church parking lot.
Young’s family has raised questions about whether Buckley should have been charged for carrying a knife as a felon, and the case has been reopened by the Racine County District Attorney’s Office and Racine Police Department.
Young’s family has hired a law firm to file a civil lawsuit in the case against Buckley. The family has also considered lawsuits against the city and Police Department in the case.
In May, Racine Mayor Cory Mason announced that he was launching a review of the city’s Police Department to study its “cultural climate” after a survey on officers’ morale raised concerns of racial and gender bias. The Journal Times has not received results from that survey nor has the city released the cost of the study.
The Journal Times will continue to look into these cases and provide updates as they are available.