Does the Punishment Fit the Actions?

By: Laura Gibbs
By: Laura Gibbs

A high-speed police chase and amazing video captured from inside a Wisconsin State Trooper's squad car. A videotape is being used as evidence in determining if police commands were obeyed. Two Beloit police officers are under fire for their actions seen in a video. A Janesville police officer tried to pull over 38-year-old Duane Hutter. Hutter was driving a stolen car from Green County. That's when Hutter hit the road with police on his tail. A camera inside a troopers car is on and recording the events as they unfold.

A glimpse behind the wheel at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. On August 17th, 2003 cars and trucks scattered on I-90. A high-speed chase ends with suspect Duane Hutter crashing as he tries to exit I-90 into South Beloit. Rock County Sheriff's department, Wisconsin State Police, Janesville, and Beloit police officers were all involved. But now, only three Beloit Police officers are being questioned for actions taken on that day.
Here's why. Hutter gets out of the car and lowers himself to the ground. That's when 3 Beloit officers are among the many who rush in and are caught on tape kneeing and kicking Hutter.

But these three officers should have never been a part of this incident. Their supervisor gave orders to block Beloit exits. Not to get involved in the chase. In reviewing this tape, Beloit Police Chief Sam Lathrop says a situation like this should have been handled differently. There are four policy violations against the officers who Chief Lathrop says got caught up in an adrenaline rush.

The wanted suspect does have a very extensive criminal history. Since all this drama on August 17, one officer Joseph Balog has resigned. Mark Smith and Daniel Daly will go in front of the police and fire commission next month. Beloit Police Chief Lathrop is recommending a 25-day suspension without pay.

Officer Smith and Officer Daly say that punishment is too harsh. The two intend to wait for the actions taken by the Police and Fire Commission. Five appointed citizens are on the PFC board and will hear the case next month. The commission could terminate the officers.


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