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Judge finds enough evidence to try 4 Milwaukee cops for illegal strip searches

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MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - Four Milwaukee police officers have been ordered to stand trial for illegally strip searching criminal suspects, and checking their cavities for illegal drugs.

Circuit Judge Jeffrey Wagner said there’s enough evidence to proceed with the case, after he heard 3 hours of testimony Friday from police detective Justin Carloni.

He summarized testimony given at a secret John Doe probe from which the charges stemmed against the 4 officers.

The main suspect is eight-year veteran Michael Vagnini, who’s charged with 25 counts of illegal strip searches, sexual assault, and misconduct in public office. Officers Jeffrey Dollhopf, Jacob Knight, and Brian Kozelek face a total of 8 charges of misconduct and illegal searches.

Defense lawyers said those charges should be dropped, because some of them involved just being present for the strip searches – and they said it does not rise to the level of being parties to crimes.

But prosecutor Kent Lovern said the officers’ mere presence indicated that the suspects had to comply with the searches – and Judge Wagner refused to drop their cases.

All four officers are scheduled to enter pleas on November 15th. 

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