What the Hell’s Going On?

On February 3rd state Department of Justice personnel, Dane County Sheriff’s deputies and Madison police sought to arrest a man named Quadren Wilson on the city’s far east side. Several shots were fired, none by Wilson, and Wilson was hit five times. He was taken to a hospital for treatment, but then released after only a few days and sent to jail. The shots were fired by the Justice Department officers on the scene.

And that, folks, is pretty much all we know a week after the incident. The public has the right to know several things, and sooner rather than later.

First, what did Wilson do that prompted that kind of coordinated force among three law enforcement agencies? All authorities will say is that he had some kind of parole violation. He was scheduled to meet with his parole agent the next day.

Second, why did DOJ’s personnel, who work for the Division of Criminal Investigations, fire the shots? I would think that these personnel would usually be involved in detective work and not front-line law enforcement.

Third, who were the personnel involved in the shootings and what is their status? Did more than one officer fire a weapon? Are they on paid administrative leave? What is their background?

Fourth, it seems strange that a man shot five times would be released to jail so soon. His family claims he’s in a great deal of pain. What’s going on with that?

Fifth, there’s the camera incident. There was a camera, owned by city Traffic Engineering, that was located near the scene, but pointed away from the incident. Somebody remotely pointed the camera to the scene after the shots were fired. This raises all kinds of questions. Wilson’s family is charging that the camera may have been intentionally pointed away during the shooting. So, which way is the camera normally facing and who changed its orientation toward the scene?

Quadren Wilson’s family wants answers to what happened to him. (Wisconsin State Journal photo.)

That’s basic information that the public should know by now. So, why don’t we have any of those answers?

There are, generally speaking, three good reasons for law enforcement to withhold information. The first is the fog of early reports. Initial information is often wrong or confused. Best to get things straightened out before you make any statements. But it has been a week. By now they know what happened.

The second reason is that family members of victims haven’t been informed. Obviously, the family members are now very aware that their relative was shot. Reasonably, they’d like to know more about why and why he’s not still in the hospital.

The third reason to keep things secret is the most complicated. Sometimes, when you have an ongoing investigation you don’t want to reveal too much to tip off the people you’re after. You don’t want them to know what you know. Since the public knows next to nothing about this case it’s impossible for us to evaluate whether that excuse is in play here. But it does appear that Wilson was their target and he’s in custody. There’s no indication that there is anybody else out there that law enforcement is looking for. Right now, based on the little we know, I’m not seeing a compelling argument for needing to keep things close to the vest.

While law enforcement stonewalls the press, Wilson’s family and activists are having a field day. This plays into the general anti-police narrative, which I think is terribly unfair to most departments and most cops. Because it was DOJ personnel who were the shooters, it’s on Attorney General Josh Kaul to take the lead in dealing with the public on this. Yesterday, he made statements that contained virtually no new information. He’s up for reelection in the fall and I’d like to see him get re-elected. This is not helping.

Kaul — or somebody — needs to start giving the public some answers or they need to explain convincingly why they can’t. “There’s an ongoing investigation” just isn’t cutting it.

And on another matter… the New York Times today ran a lengthy background piece on our favorite candidate for Supreme Court, Judge J. Michelle Childs. It’s worth reading the entire story, but I’ll just note here that Sen. Joe Manchin, who is of course the key vote, has said that he would like to see bi-partisan support for the nominee while Sen. Lindsey Graham has said there might be ten or more Republican votes, including his, for Childs. Pres. Joe Biden can’t afford another high-profile defeat and Manchin may be signaling that Childs is his choice.

Welcome to the 357th consecutive day of posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

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