Strip Search Scandal

4 Milwaukee police officers to go to trial over illegal strip searches

CREATED Nov. 2, 2012 - UPDATED: Nov. 2, 2012

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MILWAUKEE- Four Milwaukee police officers accused of performing illegal strip searches tried to get their case thrown out Friday.

A judge quickly denied a motion to dismiss the charges -- so the four officers from District 5 will stand trial.

A captain from internal affairs told graphic details of the illegal acts, strip searches authorities claim happened inside a police station.

"I don't give a sh*t about those pills I want to know what's in his a**," said internal affairs Captain Justin Carloni during explicit testimony in a Milwaukee courtroom.

Milwaukee Police Officer Michael Vagnini listened to what the state claims he said and did.

"Mr. Vagnini entered (the victim's) pants lifted his testicles and his penis to search for narcotics but there was none recovered," describes Captain Carloni.

Vagnini faces 25 charges -- including sexual assault.   He's the accused ring leader behind the strip search scandal at District 5.

His fellow officers, now co-defendants, Brian Kozelek, Jacob Knight and Jeffrey Dollhopf are charged with misconduct and violating the departments strip search policy.  Their lawyers argued they only witnessed the misconduct while working.

"There's no assertion in this criminal complaint that officer Kozelek did, said or anyway shape or form participated in this alleged illegal activity," says Kozelek's defense attorney.

But Captain Carloni testified how the victims and even other officers witnessed the illegal acts.
 
"Police officer Michael (redacted) gave testimony Officer Vagnini indeed did stick his hand into (the victim's) pants," says Captain Carloni.

Attorney Jonathan Safran represents three of the victims.  He says they're thankful other officers are speaking out.

"My clients were always concerned whether or not they would be believed," says Safran.  "They're obviously very pleased they were believed.  They're pleased other officers have come forward and the criminal complaint was issued."

The four officers are suspended with pay.  They are due back in court in two weeks.