MILWAUKEE (AP) — A former Milwaukee police officer on disability retirement for mental health issues has won an initial victory in his lawsuit against the city, a newspaper reported Sunday.
Jason Mucha sued the city in March. Mucha contends he was illegally detained by fellow police officers and his records from a psychiatrist were improperly shared by a city official.
The city sought to have the case dismissed. But U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman found in November there was enough evidence for the case to proceed on several of Mucha’s claims, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Mucha was taken into custody by members of the tactical unit in November 2012 after commanders received reports that Mucha had told a psychiatrist he had thoughts of “suicide by cop.” Nine guns were seized from Mucha but later returned to him.
On Nov. 18, Adelman ruled Mucha’s comments to the psychiatrist were not enough to take him into custody under Wisconsin’s emergency detention law.
“Rather, emergency detention is authorized only if the person either attempts suicide or to harm others or threatens suicide or to harm others,” Adelman wrote in his order. The judge said the evidence showed that Mucha “had no intent to hurt himself or anyone else.”
The city last month appealed Adelman’s decision to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. If the ruling stands, it would clear the way for a possible trial in the case.
The Journal Sentinel reports Mucha’s disability case is one of a growing number in which Milwaukee police officers who are under investigation filed for disability claiming stress from investigations, both by the department and by the media.
Mucha sought duty disability in July 2012, saying he suffered a mental breakdown the preceding March because of news reports going back to 2007. The Journal Sentinel reported in 2007 that Mucha had never been disciplined despite a long history of complaints. In 2012, he became entangled in an investigation into illegal strip searches. Mucha was never charged with a crime, but four officers he supervised were later charged in connection with the strip searches.
Adelman ruled there was enough evidence to support Mucha’s claims against the city for unreasonable search and seizure, false imprisonment and improper disclosure of medical records.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com