Two police officers must pay a Milwaukee man more than half a million dollars for violating his civil rights by searching him without a legal reason and wrongfully arresting him, a federal jury ruled Thursday.
In issuing the decision, jurors determined that Milwaukee police officers Michael Gasser and Keith Garland Jr. did not have a reason to stop and search Leo Hardy, 40, outside his mother’s home at the Mayfair Court housing complex in March 2012.
With the verdict, jurors were essentially saying that Milwaukee police, like their counterparts in New York, had used unconstitutional “stop and frisk” tactics. The officers did not have “reasonable suspicion” — the lowest level of proof required for officers to search someone — that Hardy had committed a crime or posed a threat, the jury found.
“The jury believed Leo Hardy, and they sent a message that no police officer can stop a man and put their hands on him simply because he is black in Milwaukee,” said Russell Ainsworth, Hardy’s lead attorney.