A mistrial was declared Wednesday after jurors failed to reach a verdict in the case of a Brown Deer, Wisc. officer accused of shooting an unarmed bus passenger without warning.
A jury panel of six men and six women, including two Black Americans, began deliberations around noon Monday, Feb. 26, after hearing a week’s worth of testimony from the victim, the defendant and another officer who was at the scene, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
By Wednesday, however, jurors informed Judge Christopher Dee they couldn’t agree on whether Officer Devon Kraemer was guilty of a crime for shooting 28-year-old Manuel Burnley Jr., or if she simply acted in self-defense. The panel had run into a similar issue the day before, but Dee urged them to keep trying, according to the newspaper.
A night of rest didn’t help much though, as the jury returned the following day with a note saying they had reviewed the facts of the case again but still couldn’t reach an agreement. They said they felt more discussion on the matter wouldn’t sway anyone’s mind one way or the other.
Jurors declined to comment as they left the courtroom.
Closing arguments wrap in aggravated battery trial of @BrownDeerWIPD officer Devon Kraemer. Prosecutor: “At the end of the day this is about an unarmed man getting shot in the back for no good reason.” Deliberations starting now. #WISN12 pic.twitter.com/CzlnxsQP9i
— Nick Bohr (@NickBohrWISN) February 26, 2018
The case stems from a March 2016 incident where Kraemer and another officer were trying to arrest Burnley for disorderly conduct after removing him from a bus where he argued with the driver over his $3 fare. Kraemer testified she feared Burnley was “reaching for a gun” as they all three struggled on the ground. So, she drew her weapon, shooting him in the back.
Burnley, who is Black, survived the shooting but was hospitalized for 12 days and lost part of his lung, the Journal Sentinel reported. The bullet remains in his body. In court, he testified that the other officer, Michael Leeman, called him a racial slur after he’d been shot. Both officers are white.
Even before taking Burnley to the ground, the officers said he told them, “You’re not going to Trayvon Martin me,” referencing the killing of a Black teen by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in 2012.
News of the mistrial, which essentially let Kraemer off the hook, didn’t blow over well with some folks, including Burnley.
“He’s very disappointed, upset and can’t understand how a jury could reach that conclusion,” Jonathan Safran, the victim’s attorney, told reporters after the jurors were released. Per the Journal Sentinel, Burnley has filed a notice of injury with the Village of Brown Deer, a precursor to a lawsuit against the officers.
Kraemer, 28, faced up to 15 years behind bars if she was convicted of aggravated battery with intent to cause great bodily harm, while armed with a deadly weapon.