Today, lawyers from the People’s Law Office in Chicago filed a five-count civil rights complaint on behalf of Danny Wilber, a Black and Indigenous man who was wrongfully convicted of a murder that he did not commit. The complaint names nine individual former Milwaukee police officers and the City of Milwaukee, alleging that the officers, individually and together, framed Mr. Wilber by manufacturing evidence that falsely implicated him in the crime, by suppressing evidence that exonerated him, and by ignoring evidence that pointed to alternative suspects, in violation of Mr. Wilber’s constitutional rights. These officers framed Mr. Wilber, the complaint further alleges, despite the fact that the medical and physical evidence established that it was impossible for him to have committed the crime.
The complaint also alleges that the City of Milwaukee, through its Police Department, had in place certain policies, practices and customs that also caused the violation of his constitutional rights. These policies and practices include “pursuing wrongful convictions through reliance on materially flawed investigations and coerced and fabricated evidence including witness statements; failing to produce to criminal defendants exculpatory material including handwritten notes of interviews and other investigative activities; failing to properly investigate or seeking to discredit alternative suspects; failing to adequately train, supervise, monitor, and discipline Milwaukee police officers; and maintaining the police code of silence.”
Mr. Wilber spent almost 18 years locked up in prison, until his case was dismissed in 2022, and as a result he suffered extreme and long-lasting damage. As the complaint alleges, he “sustained injuries and damages, including loss of his freedom for almost eighteen years, loss of his youth, personal injuries, pain and suffering, severe mental anguish, emotional distress, inadequate medical care, humiliation, indignities, embarrassment, degradation, permanent loss of natural psychological development, and restrictions on all forms of personal freedom including but not limited to diet, sleep, personal contact, educational opportunity, vocational opportunity, athletic opportunity, personal fulfillment, sexual activity, family relations, reading, television, movies, travel, enjoyment, and freedom of speech and expression.”
According to Mr. Wilber: I firmly believe that what the MPD did to me was deliberate, systematic, and meticulously orchestrated to frame and wrongfully convict an obviously innocent man. I hope that this case will bring some measure of law enforcement accountability when it comes to the MPD’s bringing of false charges and obtaining wrongful convictions of Black and Indigenous people in Milwaukee.
Wilber attorneys Flint Taylor and Ben Elson of the People’s Law Office addressed the alleged policy and practices of the City and its Police Department, calling them “longstanding and flagrantly unconstitutional” and “urging the Mayor, the City Council and the MPD to remedy this systemic police misconduct that caused Mr. Wilber such needless pain and suffering.”