WI taxpayers fork over $68K and counting for two DCI agents on paid leave after shooting

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi says a DA staffing shortage could be to blame for the length of the OIS investigation five and a half months later.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi says a DA staffing shortage could be to blame for length of OIS investigation five and a half months later.
Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 10:17 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - It’s been 166 days since the arrest and shooting of Quadren Wilson, and we still don’t know if charges will be filed against the two Wisconsin DCI agents who fired their weapons that day. Those agents, Nathan Peskie and Mark Wagner have been on paid administrative leave since Wilson was shot and arrested on Feb. 3.

In an open records request filed by NBC15 Investigates, data from earnings logs of Peskie and Wagner show since the two have been on paid leave, taxpayers have paid $68,186.80 for their combined salaries. Peskie earned $34,073.84 in 166 days. That calculates out to $352.64 each day Monday through Friday. Wagner is making slightly less at $351.68 per day Monday through Friday. That means every day, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne takes to decide if the shooting was justified, another $410.76 is added to the total.

It’s a decision a UW law expert and county board member say should have been made by now.

UW Law Professor Keith Findley studies criminal procedure and policing.

“There’s probably multiple reasons it’s taking this long. Part of the reason is these cases are very, very complicated. There’s a lot of data to review. There’s a lot of competing factors. It’s a politically fraught decision to make, and it’s one that, in the end, somebody’s going to be really unhappy with him for whatever decision he makes,” Findley said.

He says he understands the constraints DA Ozanne is under in making a decision, but Findley says five and a half months is too long for this one.

“The interests of the community, the interest of the effectiveness of punishment, all of those argue in favor of moving as quickly as possible. And five months is outside the norm,” analyzes Findley.

County Board member Tim Kiefer has publicly criticized DA Ozanne for the length of time that has passed without a charging decision.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. The DA needs to put this to rest because I think the questions are continuing to grow with each successive day that passes,” Kiefer said.

In the meantime, Da Ozanne defends his process, saying he continues to review materials in the investigation and understands the interest the community has on the case, but he says he has no “specific timeline” for when he will make a charging decision on whether or not he thinks the shooting was justified.

“I have always been committed to taking the time needed to make the right decision not a rushed decision. That has not changed here. While I hope to have information for this community in the near future I do not have a specific timeline for you today,” Ozanne said.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi points to an understaffed DA’s office as a possible reason the decision seems to be taking longer to some. Parisi says he backs the DA’s process so far, and he says resources and tax dollars going toward the case are worth it.

“The DA’s office is incredibly understaffed,” Parisi said. “There are so many things they want to do and need to do that are challenging for them and now they are absorbing this as well. I’m not going to judge the DA right now because I know they’ll do a thorough investigation.”

Findley says he recognizes the staffing issues in DA offices across the nation, but he says it’s not a good enough explanation to DA Ozanne’s timeline in this case.

“I doubt this is what’s going on here because a high profile case like this will get the attention it needs,” Findley said.

Parisi says instead of putting blame on the DA, the focus should be on what he calls a lack of transparency from the very moment Wilson was shot and arrested back in February.

“A precedent has been set in this community that an unarmed man can be arrested in a violent manner, allegedly shot in the back, and absolutely no explanation was given. And I’m not okay with that,” Parisi said. “We, as a community, need to ask ourselves, are we okay with this? We need to look at the precedent that was set; that a large police presence can come in and conduct a violent arrest and provide absolutely no explanation for what happened.”

Parisi says five months later, details from the arrest have never been made public. The biggest question he has is which agency made the plan to send 21 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies on the federal, state and local level out to arrest Wilson.

“Is it DCI? Is is the federal government? I believe it’s DCI, but I don’t even know. That’s one of the frustrations. This event took part in my community. And I don’t even know who made the final call that we’re going in, and we’re going in this way. No one has stepped forward,” Parisi said.

Quadren Wilson is currently serving three years in prison for drug charges as part of a plea deal related to an overdose death back in 2021.

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