Convoluted Brian

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The Importance of Understanding

Police Brutality in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

A video recording from the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department revealed a Fond du Lac city policeman pushing a handcuffed man into a table causing a cut above the detainee’s eye. The Sheriff’s Department filed a complaint against the policeman, Joel Gudex.

The story started at 8:46 A.M. on 29 October, 2010, when Fond du Lac Patrol Officer Gudex responded to a complaint that someone was throwing apples and oranges at the desk clerk at the Fond du Lac Executive Lodge.

When Gudex arrived, perpetrator had left. Gudex saw a person matching the description of the perpetrator walking away from the scene, he stopped bare-footed John W.O. Lund for questioning. Since the suspect wore no shoes and matched other identifying descriptions, it was likely that this was the fruit throwing miscreant. Gudex found Lund to be uncooperative.

In his report, Gudex stated that Lund was agitated and exhibited a “thousand yard stare.” Gudex did not define the term but used it several times in his report. He noted that Lund, “was working his fingertips into a fist” (emphasis added). Officer Gudex felt that at times, Lund took a threatening pose. When Gudex tried to detain Lund, Lund ran away.

When Gudex pursued, he tripped, “performed a somersault,” and continued on the chase. Because of the spill, Gudex stated that his radio changed channels and could not relay information about the chase. He stated that he scraped his right knee and bruised his left hand. Eventually, Gudex apprehended Lund.

After Fond du Lac Patrol Officer Jeff Klintworth arrived, Lund was placed into the Klintworth squad car and transported to the county jail. Gudex wrote in his report that he and Klintworth were both dipatched to the scene. Klintworth wrote that he responded because Gudex called for assistance and Klintworth believed that Gudex was distressed.

Video surveillance gives a clear picture of what transpired at the jail. The two officers and the handcuffed suspect waited in the sallyport for about one minute prior to entering jail intake area. During this time, the suspect walked about and the two larger officers did not appear to be concerned in any way.

After the entry to the jail, Gudex lifted the handcuffed suspect’s arms and marched him toward a table where he slammed Lund’s head onto the table.

Lund has a lengthy criminal history. Most of his offenses were disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. A few were more serious such as felony endangerment. The man has obvious mental problems, but the Wisconsin legal system is not designed to solve problems and medically treat mentally ill chronic offenders. The offense here was a barefooted Lund throwing fruit at a desk clerk.

Chronic offenders should be considered to be incapable of behavior improvement without medical assistance. It is the ignorance of our lawmakers thinking that doing the same thing over and over will yield new results, and yet they pass new laws to increase jail populations and warehouse the mentally ill.

This is not the first time that Wisconsin police have used excessive violence on a mentally ill prisoner.

In August, 1995 five of Oshkosh’s finest managed to get themselves trapped in a basement by a schizophrenic man with a knife. The officers used nonlethal projectiles to subdue the man. Nonetheless, after an hour’s shooting they killed Walter Pagel. Police radio chatter revealed that an off-site officer wished the man dead.

One of the jail personnel stated that she was “sick and tired of you guys doing this stuff,” according to Gudex. He identified County Correction Officer Jen Palmer as the person making the complaint and then went on to indicate that Correctional Officer Kevin Cable was apologetic for Palmer’s statements. Gudex stated that he was also unappreciative of Palmer’s remarks.

Officer Klintworth wrote that the jail personel said they had dealt with Lund before and they had no problems with his behaviors.

Gudex indicated that Lund’s irrational behavior on the street plus his behavior in the sallyport was justification for bashing the person’s head into the table. I suppose that means that if Officer Gudex believes that if you or I are irrational we can expect the same treatment.

Gudex claimed that both officers were frightened while they were in the sallyport with the handcuffed Lund. But, they did not show any concern while in that area. Lund weighed approximately 140 pounds and was not threatening either officer. Gudex’s claim of fright is not justified. Gudex also claimed they waited in the sallyport for about five minutes which heightened his anxiety. The surveillance tape showed one minute and no anxiety. Gudex’s claim that both officers were stuck in the sallyport with a male who “seemed to be displaying a lot of pre-attack postures” is also not consistent with the video record.

Because of the injury that Gudex inflicted on Lund, the Fond du Lac County Jail would not accept Lund as a prisoner. He was transported to the St. Agnes Hospital by Patrol Officer Klintworth. Lund’s behavior in the hospital deteriorated despite Gudex’s head bashing. Gudex’s description of bad behavior was inconsistent with Klintworth’s description. Officers continued to restrain Lund. Klintworth noted that Lund would behave when hospital personal were around.

Lund received several injections before he started to settle down. Klintworth noted that Lund would laugh “for no reason” and alternated between saying nothing to swearing at the officers. Certainly, this is not rational behavior.

Eventually, Klintworth took Lund to the Fond du Lac County Mental Health Center where he was placed in a quiet room. So the result of Gudex’s action was that Lund was not placed in jail but suffered injuries that were the responsibility of the taxpayers of the Fond du Lac and increased the cost of transporting the prisoner. Rather that simply take the man to jail, Three city police were involved in transporting Lund to the hospital and then to the County Mental Health Center.

The Sheriff’s department filed a complaint against Gudex for his violence. Based upon Officer Palmer’s statement to Gudex this has happened before; perhaps frequently. Fond du Lac County Sheriff Mylan C. Fink Jr. stated that such violence toward a handcuffed prisoner was neither warrented nor condoned by policy.

The written reports of Officer Gudex and Officer Klintworth attempted to retroactively justify the violence of Gudex toward Lund. The idea seems to be if a person is not rational then beating is justified. But, anyone can experience irrational behavior. A medication reaction, food poisoning, a seizure, and many other things can trigger behavior problems. I can appreciate that a police officer is responsible for keeping a detainee under control for the safety of all. But, pushing a handcuffed detainee’s head into a table is not control.

Klintworth wrote that he heard a radio call from Gudex asking for assistance and “it appeared to me that he was in somewhat distress.” Klintworth did not explain how he determined this distress. Gudex stated that both officers were dispatched to the Executive Lodge. The police call logs will be instrumental in determining what was said and the tone of the calls, as well if both were dispatched simultaneously as Gudex indicated.

In the end, the matter was whitewashed by Fond du Lac Police Chief Tony Barthuly. Chief Barthuly said that Fond du Lac handles its complaints internally only. He decided that Gudex “acted within the scope of his authority” but failed to follow procedure and thus gave Gudex a three-day suspension.

Lund’s sister, Cynthia Bailey, disagreed and said that Lund suffered trauma that will require long term aid and attendance by the family. Chief Barthuly has agreed to turn the matter over to the Sheboygan, Wisconsin Police Department for further investigation. Chief Barthuly said he would not turn over his internal findings to Sheboygan. I hope that does not mean keeping the video as well that the written reports of Gudex and Klintworth from the investigators.

And, hopefully, the Sheboygan investigators do not feel obligated to protect peers simply because they are peers. It is the behaviors of officers like Gudex that undermine the integrity of good police officers.

Video:

Fond du Lac Sheriff’s dept. footage of use of force incident that occurred October 29, 2010, at the Fond du Lac County jail.

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by Brian McCorkle
posted on 22 January, 2011 at 17:59 pm
in category Criminal Justice,Rants

Is police brutality in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin common?



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