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City of Milwaukee Move to Offer $450K in Settlement Money to Man Shot By Police Outside His Home as Fleeing Suspect Sought Refuge There

The city of Milwaukee set to pay a man $450,000 in a settlement three years after he was shot in the stomach by a police officer during his pursuit of another suspect. Not all of politicians are for the massive payout, claiming they are tired of having to use taxpayer funds to pay for cases involving the Milwaukee Police Department.

On Monday, Oct. 3, the Judiciary and Legislation Committee recommended approval of the six-figure for Tari Davis, an unarmed man shot by Officer Nikolas Zens in September of 2019, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The committee voted 3-1, with Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic being the sole objector.

Dimitrijevic said she voted against the settlement as a “protest vote.”

“I’m sick of these,” she said in a statement, adding she is protesting the “ever-growing taxpayer-funded settlements we have to continue to pay in this city involving the police department.”

For Dimitrijevic, this settlement and the other resolutions that the committee voted on that day cost the city upward of $1 million in pending police-related settlements or verdicts from juries.

Out of the batch, Davis’ was the largest amount recommended. Another man received $386,000, and someone else received $250,000 for a car crash involving an MPD patrol vehicle.

The progressive alderwoman’s vote was not as much against Davis or the other victims, but against covering up the bad behavior of police officers that stops the city from being socially and fiscally responsible.

Ald. Michael Murphy said he voted for it because he was thinking about the most fiscally responsible thing to do — not go to trial.

It was for that reason, he said cast his vote with “great reluctance.”

Davis filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city, then-Police Chief Alfonso Morales, Zen, and 13 other members of the force claiming officers violated his constitutional rights by shooting him, chaining him to a hospital bed while he was recovering from his injuries, and going through his phone.

According to the criminal complaint, the altercation started on Sept. 8, 2019, when police tried to pull over Kevin Brown for running a red light. The officers chased the then-22-year-old over 14 miles for 19 minutes at over 80 mph through the city’s streets.

After Brown crashed his vehicle at he got out ran to Davis’ back door. When, Zens, who was chasing Brown, enters the yard to find Brown standing with Davis the officer shoots at the two men, striking Davis in the stomach.

The officer says he thought the men were armed, but it was later proved they were not.

In 2021, Davis released on his website a 50-second bodycam clip of the encounter. The footage shows the moment Brown runs to Davis as he is standing by his backdoor.

Zens can be heard telling Brown to stop and show his hands. Then officer then fires, injuring Davis.

“I got to my back door, and it swings towards me, I looked down to see who the person was then I looked up there’s the flash, gunfire, I’m feeling the pain, I’m hurting, it’s excruciating pain going on at that moment,” Davis explained.

Zens was never criminally charged by the Milwaukee County prosecutors for the shooting and in February 2020 District Attorney John Chisholm said in a letter Zens’ belief he was in danger has not been disproven.

Despite this, Morales terminated Zens’ employment with the department. Zens had served only one and a half years in the department before the incident.

Davis added, in addition to his injuries, said his 14-year-old daughter was “forcefully and violently” slammed to the ground and detained for seven hours.

Now it is up to the Common Council to accept the settlement recommendation at its Tuesday, Oct. 11, meeting. The City Attorney’s Office wrote a letter to the council saying it wants the settlement done in an “expeditious” manner and recommended the $450,000 payment to Davis.

Davis’ lawyer, Verona Swanigan, has declined to speak on the settlement pending votes from the Council.

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