Commission reverses course, fires officer who punched woman

CREATED Dec 11, 2012 - UPDATED: Dec 11, 2012

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MILWAUKEE - On Tuesday, the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission unanimously chose to fire a Milwaukee Police officer who punched a woman.

The Milwaukee Police Department let the officer go after video caught him punching a female suspect in the back of a squad car.

The video also shows the officer pulling her hair.

Police Chief Ed Flynn fired the officer, but the commission initially re-instated him.

Chaos broke out at the first meeting about the issue last week at Milwaukee's City Hall.

The commission agreed during that meeting to reconsider its decision, and did exactly that Tuesday morning in what was described as an unprecedented decision.

"I was worried justice wouldn't be brought out, but seeing that it is, I feel much better about it," said the victim, Jeanine Tracey.

"Even Aaron Rodgers drops the ball sometimes.  He fumbles it.  He throws an interception, and when that happens, you pick up the ball and keep running and try to make sure that it doesn't happen again.  The citizen board looked at the case again and ultimately made the correct decision," said Commission Executive Director Mike Tobin.

The Journal Sentinel's Gina Barton tells Newsradio 620 WTMJ that Schoen will appeal the decision.

Alderman Joe Davis wants to know if Schoen was given a mental evaluation.

"I want to air on the caution of safety," said Davis.  "These issues can become very tragic my intend is to make sure that public safety is the utmost concern."

The Police Union president says there is no proof that Schoen has any mental problems.

Davis said he gave MPD two weeks to show proof the officer passed a mental evaluation.

Common Council Willie Hines agreed with the move.

"I join citizens throughout the city today in celebrating the Fire and Police Commission’s choice to reverse course and terminate Officer Richard Schoen," said Hines in a statement.

"The committee’s decision to reconsider its initial disciplinary finding, a 60-day suspension, is not only just, but it is the most appropriate thing to do."

Alderman Bob Donovan gave a negative reaction to the decision.

"Today’s reversal by the Fire and Police Commission on the reinstatement of Officer Richard Schoen should be very troubling to Milwaukee residents," said Donovan in a statement.

"Very simply, what happened today is akin to a jury changing its verdict because certain individuals stood up in the courtroom and raised their voices in disagreement. This reversal is mind boggling, and I believe it could expose the city to a very damaging lawsuit."

The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office said it would not revisit the possibility of filing criminal charges against Schoen in the wake of the Commission's reversal.