FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 15, 2014
MILWAUKEE – Today the ACLU of Wisconsin responded to a finding that a mentally ill man killed by Racine Police “bears total culpability for this deadly force confrontation.” Racine Police officers (who have not been indentified) shot and killed Mr. Rajko Utvic of Racine on July 6, 2014.
In a letter released yesterday, (attached) Racine County District Attorney W. Richard Chiapete commended the City of Racine Police Department and thanked the Racine County Sheriff’s Office for their handling of the investigation into Mr. Utvic’s death.
“The ACLU of Wisconsin believes the public deserves to know more before putting all the blame on an individual suffering from mental illness,” said ACLU of Wisconsin executive director, Chris Ahmuty, today. “District Attorney Chiapete’s letter to Racine Police Chief Howell does not sufficiently address this incident,” he continued.
District Attorney Chiapete wrote, “Mr. Utvic left officers with no other alternatives.” The ACLU wants to know more. For instance, did any of the officers on the scene have crisis intervention training? Why didn’t the officers just step back to deescalate the situation?
The ACLU of Wisconsin, in a letter from ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director Chris Ahmuty to Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling, (attached) has requested a copy of his investigators’ report. Perhaps the investigators report answers these important questions. Investigators are required under a new state statute to release their report if the District Attorney finds that there are no grounds to bring criminal charges against the officers.
The Wisconsin Legislature in April adopted a law requiring that an independent investigator lead an investigation into officer-involved deaths. The new law follows a number of officer-involved deaths in Wisconsin, including deaths in Kenosha, Madison, and Milwaukee.