The end of 2013 brought a measure of closure to a long-running Milwaukee police scandal, though some say the officer — and his cohorts — who repeatedly and illegally shoved his fingers up black male suspects’ anal cavities got off with a light sentence considering the flagrant nature of his abuses.
The ringleader was identified as officer Michael Vagnini, a white man who routinely targeted black males as young as fifteen for sadistic — and blatantly illegal — anal searches.
One victim said that another officer put a gun to his head while Vagnini administered a choke hold, touched his scrotum and fingered his anus. Another man was probed so violently that he bled.
Wisconsin law clearly prohibits police officers from administering cavity searches. Only medical professionals may do so, and only when authorized by a warrant.
But lack of a warrant or a medical degree did not stop Vagnini from sticking his fingers inside a 15-year-old boy’s anus and touching his genitals during a traffic stop in December of 2011.
The Journal Sentinel documented at least a dozen similar instances of Vagnini performing invasive, illegal searches on black men. According to his reports, some of the victims were indeed carrying drugs, though they contend that the officer lied about the details and even planted drugs inside their bodies.
One man, Keon Canada, was searched by Milwaukee police on four separate occasions. They searched his buttcheeks and opened the front of his pants. No drugs were found during any of the searches.
Vagnini rarely used gloves when he probed their anuses, the victims contend. He also stole personal items and laughed when asked to present a warrant.