Wisconsin Black man arrested while driving with white grandmother sues officers

Wednesday, March 15, 2023
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WAUWATOSA, Wis. -- A man claims he was wrongfully pulled over by Wauwatosa police officers, ordered out of the car to his knees at gunpoint and then handcuffed and placed in the back of a squad car all because he is Black.

The traffic stop happened in September 2018 near 114th and Burleigh streets near the Mayfair Collection.

That claim prompted a federal civil rights lawsuit and a seven-person jury, all of whom are white.

Four women and three men heard opening statements and testimony Monday from the grandmother, her friend and Officer Patrick Kaine who initiated the traffic stop that day.

Cameras are not allowed in federal court, but WISN 12 News' Hillary Mintz listened to the testimony.

Akil Carter, the plaintiff in the case, was riding in the backseat of a blue Lexus. Carter is Black, he was 18 at the time. His grandmother, Paulette Barr, is white. She was in the passenger seat. Barr's friend Sandra Adams, also white was in the driver's seat.

Barr and Adams testified in court Monday, telling jurors when the officer's lights came on behind them they had no clue why they were getting pulled over.

Kaine told jurors while he was in his squad car, another man referred to as a "tipster" in court made a U-turn and pulled over to tell Kaine a robbery was happening in a blue Lexus at the next intersection. Kaine said the "tipster" never said how he knew this information or what exactly he saw, but Kaine said the man seemed "adamant" this was happening.

Kaine then proceeded to pull the blue Lexus over.

He's heard on dash camera video obtained by WISNM 12 News shout over his squad PA system telling Carter to get out of the car with his hands up, then to get to the sidewalk and walk backward toward the officers.

Kaine told jurors he began a "high risk" traffic stop and called for backup.

On the dash camera, Kaine is seen drawing his .40 caliber Glock service weapon as he walks in front of his squad car to where another officer is handcuffing the Black teenager.

The officers then bring Carter and place him in the back of the squad.

Meanwhile, Kaine goes back to his grandmother's car, telling the officer that's her grandson.

Kaine tries to explain the situation and apologizes only for the bad information he received from the "tipster."

Defense attorneys said Carter was detained for six minutes and then let go. The entire traffic stop lasted 11 minutes.

During opening statements, Carter's attorney Joy Bertrand told jurors these officers violated Carter's Fourth Amendment right, the "foundation of this case and freedom," Bertrand said.

Bertrand added it protects people from "unreasonable seizure" and "police must have reasonable, suspicion that a crime is afoot."

Bertrand argues that the officers had no evidence or proof that a crime was being committed in that blue Lexus.

Defense attorneys during their opening statements argued the officers needed to investigate in order to find out if a crime was being committed and that warranted a traffic stop to find out.

During Kaine's testimony, he told the jury during his 28-year career he had encountered people with mental illness and people who make false reports. He also added that he told the "tipster" to meet him near the traffic stop to get more information, but when another officer went to find the man they couldn't, he was gone.

Kaine will resume his testimony Tuesday morning for cross-examination.

Former Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Weber was seen in federal court Monday. He could be called to testify.

Carter, the man arrested is also expected to testify. Carter said he suffered emotional distress and trauma following the traffic stop. He is seeking damages in the civil case.

Attorneys will give closing arguments before jurors decide the case.

All the officers named in the lawsuit are active members of the department.

Wauwatosa police told WISN 12 News no officers ever faced discipline associated with the traffic stop.

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