MILWAUKEE (AP) — A judge has given Milwaukee’s ousted police chief his job back, just a day after the board that demoted him selected a new acting chief.
Judge Christopher Foley on Friday reversed the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission’s August decision to demote Alfonso Morales, the Journal Sentinel reported. Commissioners had criticized how Morales handled multiple incidents involving Black people, including the arrest of Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown.
They were also critical of his decision to use tear gas and pepper spray against protesters who demonstrated after George Floyd’s May 25 death in Minneapolis.
After his demotion, Morales retired, sued and requested a judicial review. Morales sought $625,000 in damages from the city.
It’s unclear what happens next. Judge Foley reversed the commission’s decision to demote Morales to captain but did not give further instructions — something he said he could not do.
“I acknowledge that from the City’s perspective there is great benefit in remand with directions,” Foley wrote. “Remand continues the status quo as of the conclusion of the Commission hearing with Mr. Morales demoted to captain and appealing that demotion. It avoids the potential, noted in media accounts, of ‘two chiefs.’
“But that is a potential dilemma of the Commission’s own making and wholly ignores the detrimental impact of the fundamentally flawed process on the interests of Mr. Morales,” Foley added.
Morales’ attorney Frank Gimbel told the Journal Sentinel that Morales was “delighted with his victory” and that they would be “exploring carrying out the judge’s ruling.”
Mayor Tom Barrett’s spokeswoman said his office was consulting with the city attorney. Meanwhile, the commission continues to search for a permanent police chief after deadlocking on two external candidates.