MILWAUKEE — A woman who was raped three years ago by a Milwaukee police officer responding to a 911 call she made has filed a lawsuit against him, the city, police department and police chief.
In her lawsuit, the woman accuses the imprisoned former officer, Ladmarald Cates, of violating her civil rights and leaving her with emotional distress by attacking her in July 2010. She also accuses police officials and the city of failing to properly discipline Cates for previous violations, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Cates, who was fired later in 2010, was convicted last year in federal court of violating the victim’s civil rights by sexually assaulting her in the role of a police officer, and was sentenced to 24 years in prison. He testified that the sex was consensual.
The woman, who was 19 when the attack occurred, testified that Cates raped her in her bathroom after she called police about neighbors throwing rocks through her windows. After the assault she was arrested. She told other police officers on the scene and at the station that she had been raped, but they didn’t believe her.
After about 11 hours, officers took her to a hospital where a nurse found physical evidence she had been sexually assaulted and strangled, the lawsuit says. After leaving the hospital she was taken back to jail and detained for several days. She was never charged with a crime.
Should Citizens Have the Right to Fire a Police Officer?
The Commission decided to reconsider. On December 11, they reconvened. They still had to resolve a central challenge. How do you weigh a positive record of service against a very serious conduct violation? Citing Officer Schoen’s counsel, the Commission wrote that he “was out of control… really, only a matter of seconds.” The Commission also noted that they “see no affirmative desire on Schoen’s part to cause injury — angry and uncaring, yes, but not deliberately sadistic.” But ultimately they concluded that Schoen should be permanently discharged. In addition to the seriousness of the violations, they felt Schoen “failed to accept responsibility” since he maintained that his actions — the grabbing, the punching, the dragging, and the kneeing — were not inappropriate.
A willingness to protect is noble. So when should we refuse it? In the case of Officer Schoen, Milwaukee citizens decided they did not want his protection — that his proven capacity to do harm undermined his proven capacity to do good. Even so, the case is still not over. Schoen will appeal to the Milwaukee Circuit Court. We can expect the court will review the policy violations and the disciplinary response. But they should also consider whether the citizens of a community have the right to fire a police officer — and choose who will protect them. What ensures our safety is not only more who are willing to protect, but also fewer who are willing to harm.