A Black Monona man who was arrested by police at gunpoint in his home after a neighbor called to report a possible burglary after seeing him seated on the front patio has sued the city as well as two police officers involved in the incident.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the residence belongs to the deceased mother of the high school football coach of the plaintiff – 23-year-old Keonte Furdge. The coach allowed Furdge and his friend to occupy the home for two months following her passing. The neighbor, who was unfamiliar with the new occupants, called the police on a non-emergency number on June 2 to report a suspicious African American after she saw Furdge on the porch.
The two officers who arrived allegedly entered the home with their guns drawn without knocking or making their presence known. They also neither called the homeowner to verify the report nor had a warrant.
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Furdge, who was in a bedroom when the officers entered, came out complying to orders after they yelled, “Police, come out with your hands up.” He was subsequently handcuffed. Furdge, who asked why he was being held, was released after another neighbor informed the officers he wasn’t an intruder, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The officers apologized to Furdge for “ruffling his feathers” and informed him there had been a misunderstanding.
“This lawsuit seeks to establish that this was more than a misunderstanding,” the filed complaint obtained by the news publication read. “It seeks to vindicate the violation of Keonte Furdge’s constitutional rights.”
“It seeks to effect change through punitive damages by punishing the Defendants for their egregious conduct with the hope that the punishment is significant enough to prevent this from happening again in the future, so that a person can move into a formerly vacant house in the City of Monona and sit on his front porch without having to fear that the police will break in and shoot him.”
The officers involved in the incident had their body camera’s on and one of them – identified as Luke Wunsch – was reportedly familiar with Furdge. “I am glad it was you and I recognized you versus somebody who I didn’t know, but, ah, that is still not, nobody wants that interaction,” Wunsch apologetically told Furdge after he was released.
In the aftermath of the incident, Monona Police Chief Walter Ostrenga, released a statement saying: “Following protocol, believing this was possibly a burglary to a residence, [the officers] entered the house with guns drawn.”
Furdge is suing for unlawful entry, false arrest, excessive force and failure to intervene, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The suit also claims to hold the city liable for the actions of the two officers. The plaintiff is seeking unspecified damages for bodily injury, pain, suffering, mental distress, humiliation, loss of liberty and related expenses, the news publication added.