MILWAUKEE (AP) — Talks to determine the future of Milwaukee’s former police chief after a judge ruled he was improperly demoted ended Monday without a resolution.
Former Chief Alfonso Morales’ attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, told The Associated Press that “we were not close to any reasonable settlement terms,” but he said the nature of any settlement, including whether the goal is to have Morales return to work, hasn’t been determined yet.
Gimbel told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the meeting was a preliminary discussion and “we shall see in the next several days or week whether or not the city comes around to a position that is more reasonable from my client’s point of view.” He said he met with Assistant City Attorney William Davidson and that City Attorney Tearman Spencer wasn’t present.
Spencer did not immediately reply to an email from the AP, but Mayor Tom Barrett issued a statement later Monday that cited the city attorney and emphasized Morales had chosen to retire.
“In consultation with the City Attorney’s Office, we understand the circuit court’s recent ruling reinstated Alfonso Morales to his former rank as Chief of Police. Chief Morales voluntarily retired from service on August 8, 2020. It is the City Attorney’s position that he is no longer a retired Captain; rather, he is a retired Chief of Police,” the mayor’s statement said.
Gimbel immediately fired back, calling it “a cheap shot attempt to close the door of the Police administration building to Chief Morales’ possible return to the job that was taken from him illegally.”
The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission voted in August to demote Morales amid criticism over the way he handled multiple incidents involving Black people, including the arrest of Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown. Commissioners were also critical of his decision to use chemical irritants against protesters who were demonstrating after George Floyd’s May 25 death in Minneapolis.
After his demotion to captain, Morales retired, sued for $635,000 in damages and requested a judicial review. On Friday, a judge reversed the commission’s decision to demote Morales but did not give further instructions.
It’s not clear what will happen next, but the commission continues to search for a permanent police chief after deadlocking on two external candidates. Michael Brunson Sr., who became acting chief after Morales’ demotion, is set to retire on Wednesday.
Gimbel told the Journal Sentinel over the weekend that he expected Monday’s meeting to be key to Morales’ decision to either return as chief or seek financial compensation. Gimbel did not expect Morales to come back to the department during the negotiations.
The city has acknowledged in a legal filing that Morales was denied due process.