In February, Quadren Wilson was at a stoplight on Madison’s east side when he was boxed into an intersection by unmarked vehicles. Officers from the Madison Police Department, Wisconsin DNR, State Patrol, federal DEA, and the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation descended on Wilson’s car.
Agents from the Department of Criminal Investigations fired on Wilson, causing him to be hit five times in the back by the fragments of one bullet, the Dane County Sheriff’s Office later determined.
Wilson survived, but was moved from an area hospital to the Dane County Jail just days after the incident. But the shooting and involvement of twenty-one police officers from five federal, state, and local agencies sparked community outcry and questions over why violent measures were necessary at all.
Today, one of the two agents who shot Wilson was charged for his involvement.
DCI agent Mark Wagner is charged with one count of reckless endangerment in the second degree, a felony that, if convicted, can carry up to a ten-year sentence and a fine of up to $25,000.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne brought the charge, which also carries a modifier of Use of a Dangerous Weapon.
Steven Eisenberg is Wilson’s attorney. He says that while two officers were involved in the incident, he doesn’t know why only Wagner, and not Nate Peskie, the other D-C-I agent who allegedly shot Wilson, was charged.
“I’m not happy that the other shooter was not charged. I think this was a rapid fire situation where, according to the complaint, I cannot verify that, seven shots were fired within five to ten seconds of Mr. Wilson’s car getting slammed from the front and the back. I’m not sure why he wasn’t charged, but that isn’t my decision to make,” Eisenberg says.
Wagner is being charged with, essentially, pointing a loaded gun at Wilson, and not with attempted homicide. Eisenberg says that this is because this is all the district attorney is able to prove.
“In order to get to the intent crimes, like attempted homicide, you need to show an attempt to kill. Do I think that Wagner got out of the car with the attempt to kill? I sure as hell hope not. That’s what you have to show, (and) it’s a hard charge to show. So we don’t have many (options), we don’t have a homicide here so you can’t charge that, so I suppose they could have charged negligent use of a weapon, or negligent discharge of a weapon, but this is probably the highest class of felony one could charge with the circumstances that occurred in this case,” Eisenberg says.
Usually, the job of investigating an officer-involved shooting falls to the state Department of Criminal Investigations. But because this shooting involved agents from the DCI, that duty fell on the Dane County Sheriff’s Department.
WORT has twice requested the final report of the Dane County Sheriff’s investigation into the shooting. Both were rejected due to an ongoing investigation, with instructions to resubmit the request in two months.
At a preliminary hearing this morning, Wagner’s attorney Michael Steinle, who did not respond to WORT’s request for comment by airtime, tried to get the complaint thrown out. Steinle said that the complaint did not show enough probable cause that Wagner meant to point his gun at Wilson. That request was denied.
And while the complaint outlines some of the events of that February morning, Eisenberg says that it doesn’t show the whole picture.
“Let me tell you, the criminal complaint is 12 pages long, and is a snippet of what I imagine is hundreds if not thousands of police reports. I don’t have those, and now that there’s a criminal case, they are not going to be disclosed through public records or any other case until the case is concluded,” Eisenberg says.
Eisenberg says that his biggest issue with the incident is the fact that it was executed at all. Eisenberg asks: why did they decide to arrest him in his car on a busy street in the morning, when he was wearing an ankle monitor showing them where he was at all times?
“Who decided this was a good idea, to get 21 cops together and take this guy down on a busy street? Thank god Mary just driving to work didn’t get shot! The civil liability, the problem in this whole case comes from the beginning, from the plan the night before. What a crazy thing to do to a human being,” Eisenberg says.
Both the county District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the case.
Wagner was released on bail this morning, and has a court date set for October 28.
Photo courtesy: Nate Wegehaupt / WORT News Team