Strip Search Scandal

Man claims Milwaukee police officer Vagnini violated his rights during strip search

CREATED Oct 9, 2012 - UPDATED: Oct 9, 2012

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MILWAUKEE- Seven Milwaukee police officers and a sergeant were under investigation in the illegal strip search case -- and now four of them are no longer serving and protecting, instead they're working on a defense in a criminal case.

TODAY'S TMJ4's Jermont Terry talked to a person who says he was victimized by the accused ring leader -- officer Michael Vagnini.

Joseph Mays claims his injuries came in 2011 when officers violated him inside Milwaukee Police District 5.

"They take me into a room, they make me take off all my clothes," describes Mays.  "They got me standing there totally naked and handcuffed too."
Officer Michael Vagnini is the cop charged with 25 counts, including illegal strip searches, misconduct and sexual assaults.
"During the investigation it became clear the mistreatment focused on select officers of District 5 and particularly the actions of Michael Vagnini," said Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm during a news conference Tuesday.

Vagnini's fellow officers, now co-defendants Jacob Knight, Jeffrey Dollhopf and Brian Kozelek, are also accused of playing a part in the illegal searches during the last two years.

Many of the searches happened inside District 5.  The officers believed the suspects had drugs, and in some cases -- like Mays' -- drugs were found, but in some cases no drugs were recovered.

"They spread my butt cheeks so hard that they sort like ripped the top of my butt crack so there was an abrasion above my rectum," says Mays.  "You just can't run around breaking the rules and doing what you want to get to get arrest and convictions."

Chisholm says some cases have been thrown out where the suspended officers made arrests.  Chisholm didn't say how many cases were thrown out.