The body-camera footage and police report documenting the arrest of 43-year-old Joel Trudell of Kenosha at the June 21, 2022 County Board meeting has been released. You can read here and here to catch up. The public has already seen multiple videos of Trudell’s abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, and unreasonably loud conduct and followed by a physical resisting of arrest. The body-cam footage shows us a little more. The police reports also detail a significant amount of conduct leading up to Trudell’s arrest.
Deputy Duncan writes in his report that “prior to Joe[l] taking his turn at the podium, he had interrupted other citizen comments and had been warned multiple times by the chairman to remain civil. At one point, after noticing that deputies were looking in his direction after one of his disruptions, he seemed to blow a kiss in our direction in a loud audible fashion. It appeared that he was trying to mock us while we were performing our duties. I took note of the behavior and continued to supervise the rest of the proceedings.”
This is clearly shown in the following video:
Many of the people defending Trudell are insisting that his first amendment rights were violated. This case really comes down to two issues.
1) Was the chairman justified in ending Trudell’s comments?
In the Deputies’ reports, and from what was visible from the county’s cameras, it is clear that Trudell was disruptive throughout the entire meeting, not just when his turn came to speak at the podium. Deputies also document a man who interrupted Trudell and was likewise warned from the chairman. This is a man known and friendly with the chairman. This suggests he treated people friendly to his policy and opposed to his policy the same. After all, many people spoke against the second amendment proposals that were not cut off by the chairman.
2) Did Trudell resist a lawful arrest and commit the misdemeanor crime of disorderly conduct?
Wisconsin Statute gives the chairmen of all levels of governmental bodies the authority to call speakers out of order and have them removed from the podium or even the building. The chairman is tasked with keeping order. The chairman does not have the authority to order someone to be arrested. In this case, he asked the deputies to remove Trudell from the podium. That was it. The two Deputies, who are well-respected among their colleagues made the determination that there was probable cause for an arrest of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest when he failed to remove himself from the podium, a lawful order from a peace officer and then physically resisted arrest. Walworth County DA Zeke Wiedenfeld agreed with the deputies and issued charges.
We learned from the body-cam footage that after Trudell was removed from the chambers, he told deputies, “My wife is a lawyer guys, just so you guys know!” Indeed, Trudell’s wife is an attorney and works for Johnson Bank as the Vice-President of the Wealth Fiduciary department. Many wives would be embarrassed by this conduct, but reportedly, not Kate. She has been requesting police records and talking about a lawsuit.
We also learned deputies were calm, cool and collected and treated Trudell with respect all the way to the jail. We also learned that Deputy Wilson remembered his training and activated his body-warn camera with his right hand while Trudell was resisting arrest in his other hand. Here is a still photo of Deputy Wilson activating his body-cam, which is a button attached to his police vest.
If Wilson, didn’t do this in time, we wouldn’t have the extra footage. We asked the Sheriff’s department about Deputy Wilson’s quick action and Kenosha Sheriff’s department Public Information officer Sgt. Wright told us:
“All of our sworn staff and detentions staff that are required to wear body cameras are instructed to follow our department policies and procedures as it relates to body cameras. The KSD provides training and expects all of our employees to be cognizant of when their body-worn cameras should be on and activated. That being said, Deputy Wilson is a well-trained deputy and does great work for the KSD. We are proud of the work he does for the department and the community.“
The body-worn-camera footage is below: