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Sunday, June 23, 2024
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne will not charge Genele Laird or the officers involved in the June incident.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne will not charge Genele Laird or the officers involved in the June incident.

Actions in Laird arrest were 'objectively reasonable'

Madison police identified last week Richard Friday and Andrew Muir as the officers involved in the forceful June 21 arrest of Genele Laird at East Towne Mall. Neither will be disciplined for the incident, which went viral after a bystander recorded a video.

A Use of Force review by both Madison Police Department’s Internal Affairs and the Dane County Sheriff’s department found “under the totality of circumstances” that the use of force was “objectively reasonable.”

Those actions included “focused strikes” by Muir while Laird was both standing and on the ground. Muir also deployed aTaser, according to records released last Thursday.

MPD Chief Mike Koval also released a letter Thursday. In the letter, he noted that MPD responded to 55,599 calls to service from April 1 through June 30, and deployed use of force 56 times, which is less than 1 percent.

The department also released the entire report of the incident, which totaled 76 pages, including 35 pages of email correspondence.

Muir’s and Friday’s commendation and complaint records were released with the documents. Muir joined the department in 2013, and has since earned one Lifesaving Award, eight commendations and two Use of Force complaints. Friday has had three Lifesaving Awards, 17 commendations and three Use of Force complaints since he joined the department in 2008.

The June arrest of Laird caught national attention when bystander video of the use of force went viral. The incident also came as Koval was feuding with Madison Common Council over a review of the department that will cost the city approximately $350,000.

The officers were dispatched to East Towne Mall after Laird allegedly brandished a knife and threatened a Taco Bell employee for stealing her phone. She also had a dispute with mall security officers. However, according to the records, officers did not know Laird was armed before arriving on scene. Friday saw the knife sticking out of Laird’s backpack after the forceful arrest, according to the records.

She could have faced several felony charges, but Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne did not charge Laird for the incident, instead referring her to a restorative justice program.

Koval noted in his letter that MPD will employ a “use-of-force” coordinator in mid-September after receiving a federal grant in 2015. The position will manage “best practices” in these types of situations, according to Koval’s letter. To end his letter, Koval recapped what MPD has done to address concerns about use of force.

“We will continue our commitment to dedicating training time in diffusing, de-escalation, and disengagement,” Koval said.

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