The recent decision not to charge three officers who killed a man who had just shot three workers at a restaurant at Wisconsin’s Oneida Casino is unsurprising, says an expert on police use of deadly force.
Rashawn Ray, a researcher at the Brookings Institution, said, “It is not a surprise that the officers are not facing charges” for fatally shooting Bruce Pofahl, 62, a former restaurant employee, during the May 1 incident.
Before he was shot dead, the suspect had fatally shot Ian Simpson and Jacob Bartel. He also shot a third man, Daniel Mulligan, who survived his wounds. All three were employed by the restaurant.
Brown County District Attorney David Lasee recently announced he will not charge the officers because they were justified in shooting the armed suspect.
Wisconsin’s Department of Justice also investigated the shooting by the three Green Bay police officers: Sgt. Brian Jordan and Officers Makayla Wolfe and Ben Snyder.
Restraining Order Against Suspect
Pofahl had worked at the restaurant. But he was fired, and Pofahl’s supervisor had gotten a restraining order issued by a local judge. The supervisor had received threatening text messages and emails from him. The shooter had been prohibited from entering the restaurant building under the restraining order.
But the assailant made his way to a waiter station at the restaurant the night of the shooting. He then shot the workers at close range. Police then located him on the casino property, where he was allegedly pointing his firearm at the officers. Members of the public were nearby, and police opened fire.
The restaurant is known as the Duck Creek Kitchen + Bar. It is located in the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center, which is located adjacent to the casino.
Charges Typically Not Filed Against Officers
Looking at national trends of police officers shooting someone, Ray finds reasons for concern.
“Well over 90 percent of the more than 1,000 police killings in the US never result in even a criminal charge for police officers, despite nearly half of these killings being ruled as unjustifiable,” Ray told Casino.org.
The public’s tax money is then on the hook for civil settlements,” Ray added. “Collectively, these factors suggest that police are above the law, and the spillovers fall onto community members whether at a casino, restaurant, or tourist town.”
The Oneida Casino is located in Ashwaubenon, Wisc. Following the shooting, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, D, tweeted he was “devastated” about the “tragedy.”
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