A Kenosha Police Sergeant had a few too many to drink on the night of November 6, 2017. Just before midnight, he caused a car wreck that injured a 27-year-old South Milwaukee man. The man was stopped at a red light and Munnelly crashed into him at a high rate of speed. Several fires in the roadway were caused by the collision. The injured man was very disoriented and was taken to the hospital. He was later diagnosed with a concussion and had very severely bruised legs. He later suffered from mental health issues, like PTSD. Munnelly could not explain which way he was travailing or even which road he was on. He refused standard field sobriety tests. He later told police he thinks he fell asleep at the wheel. Police then got a warrant for his blood and it registered at .198 which is more than twice the legal limit. Munnelly called KPD and notified supervision of his arrest promptly as with department policy. He was put on desk duty due to the fact he had no valid license, at least temporarily.
Milwaukee Prosecutors would wait more than 5 months before they charged Munnelly with DWI-Causing Injury on April 17, 2018.
We received a tip that Munnelly was seen at a Wisconsin Department of Justice training called “Leadership in Police Organization.” He attended this training during the week of December 10, 2018 while out on bail. We spoke to the Department of Justice to find out what went wrong. Stacy Lenz, the Deputy Director of the Training and Standards Bureau confirmed that Munnelly did indeed attend the training. Deputy Director Mike Steffes of the Division of Law Enforcement Standards at the WI DOJ told us bluntly that they expect that law enforcement officers sent for training are in good standing with their respective departments. “Unfortunately that doesn’t appear to be what happened this time” he told us.
We reached out to then-Chief Miskinis about why he sent Munnelly to this elite training while out on bail. Miskinis never answered our questions. The current police Chief, Eric Larsen, took responsibility on behalf of the department he now leads, telling the KCE “We (KPD) made a mistake by sending him (to the training). When you make a mistake, you own it.”
Conviction and Leave
Less than a month after the training was concluded, Munnelly would plead guilty to the charge on January 2, 2019. He was sentence to a jail term of 40 days, only 10 more than the minimum sentence. He also lost his license for one year. He would later obtain an occupational license, but would need an ignition interlock device installed in every vehicle he drove, even a police cruiser. It was only then that Munnelly was placed on administrative leave – shortly after KCE asked Miskinis what he was going to do.
On January 16, 2019, Chief Miskinis sent a letter to Munnelly telling him that he would be terminated if he didn’t produce a valid driver’s license by the end of the month. This is something the Chief knew Munnelly could not do. On February 1, 2019 Munnelly was terminated.
A couple of months, later, on April 8, 2019, Munnelly filed a lawsuit against the City of Kenosha, the Police Chief, and the police and fire commission. Munnelly argued that his termination was disciplinary in nature and he had the right to a hearing before the police and fire commission.
Today Circuit Court Judge Anthony Milisauskas ruled that the termination was not disciplinary in nature and dismissed the lawsuit. Munnelly will not be reinstated as a police officer or get a hearing in from of the board. We asked Kenosha Police Chief Eric Larsen why Munnelly was not disciplined and he told us that the point of discipline was moot, as then-Chief Miskinis was intending to terminate Munnelly for not having a license which was a condition of his employment.
The Judge made the right call here.
Munnelly was drawing a tax-payer funded salary for well over a year after committing a serious crime. Legislators in Madison need to correct the statutes so that if government officials are convicted of serious crimes, they cannot be paid to sit at home while on leave.
Former Chief Dan Miskinis made several mistakes over his short tenure as Chief. This is one of them. Allowing an officer that is on bail to be in command of other officers and get trained by the state’s top law-enforcement agency is reprehensible. The fact that Miskinis didn’t discipline Munnelly will remain a mystery, as he is close-lipped about it. If Munnelly applies to another police department, his file at Kenosha will not show any punishment for violating the law. Perhaps Miskinis was attempting to leave the door open for Munnelly to be hired again sometime by a different department. If Munnelly was fired as a disciplinary action, it would have likely not resulted in a lawsuit. This suit probably cost the City upwards of $50,000 to defend. We are hopeful that Kenosha’s new Chief will do better. He will be on the job for at least 17 months, depending on if he chooses to apply for the job on a permanent basis.
Body Cam Footage