Widow sues police over Wisconsin motorcycle shop standoff

AP News
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Posted: Jul 26, 2016 8:55 AM

NEENAH, Wis. (AP) — The widow of a man killed by police during a standoff at an eastern Wisconsin motorcycle shop is suing the officers for wrongful death.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, Theresa Mason-Funk claims the officers used unnecessary and excessive force when they shot Michael Funk at Eagle Nation Cycles in Neenah last December.

Funk was a hostage and had drawn his handgun as he tried to escape when he was shot by officers Craig Hoffer and Robert Ross. The officers had believed Funk was the hostage taker.

Funk was shot nine times, and Neenah police didn't tend to him for more than 30 minutes, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also says that when a sergeant asked Hoffer whether she should check on him, Hoffer said: "I could care less right now if he sits there and dies."

Neenah City Attorney Jim Godlewski told Post-Crescent Media (http://post.cr/2arFYNN ) that the lawsuit will be referred to the city's defense counsel. He had no comment on the lawsuit itself.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice determined the officers thought Funk was the armed hostage taker and was a threat, and they weren't criminally responsible for his killing.

The man accused in the standoff, Brian Flatoff, faces trial on multiple counts.

Mason-Funk's lawsuit, which does not specify a dollar amount, alleges that many of the shots fired by the officers hit her husband in the back. It also says Ross shot Funk twice after he was already wounded and no longer a threat.

Howard Schoenfeld, Mason-Funk's attorney, said the lawsuit "seeks accountability for Michael's wrongful death and, out of accountability, justice for his grieving widow."

The lawsuit came after Neenah chose not to respond to a $3.5 million wrongful death claim filed in March by Mason-Funk.

Authorities say Funk, 60, and two other men were held hostage Dec. 5 at Eagle Nation Cycles by Flatoff in a dispute over a motorcycle. Neenah police tried to rescue the hostages, but retreated after Flatoff fired at them.

Minutes later Funk escaped while Flatoff shot at him from inside. Funk drew his handgun and turned to run when he was shot by Hoffer and Ross.

The DOJ has said that the officers were mistaken in retrospect, but their perceptions were not unreasonable.

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Information from: Post-Crescent Media, http://www.postcrescent.com