MILWAUKEE (AP) - One of four white Milwaukee police officers accused of conducting illegal strip searches of black suspects became the second Friday to plead no contest.
Jacob Knight entered the plea to a misdemeanor charge of an illegal body cavity search as part of a plea deal in which a felony misconduct charge was dismissed, online court records said.
The plea came two days after five men filed two federal lawsuits against the city of Milwaukee, its police department and eight officers, saying they were subjected to unwarranted and humiliating rectal probes. The lawsuits accuse five officers of using their fingers to probe the men's rectal and genital areas without probable cause; two officers of watching but not stopping their fellow officers; and a police captain of failing to supervise her officers.
An internal police investigation led to charges being filed against four officers, including Knight, in October. Officer Michael Vagnini pleaded no contest to four felonies and four misdemeanors and was sentenced last month to 26 months in prison. Jury trials for the other two are scheduled to start later this month.
In Wisconsin, police officers are prohibited from doing any sort of cavity searches. Searches involving penetration can be only be performed by a doctor, physician's assistant or registered nurse.
The plaintiffs allege that five white officers, under the premise of looking for drugs, used their fingers to probe the men's rectal and genital areas without probable cause. Two men said even when no drugs were found in the searches, they were still arrested.
The plaintiffs' attorneys said Thursday the men were subjected to "indecent, inhuman acts" in public view.
Knight is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 4. His attorney did not immediately respond to a phone message left for comment.
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