Nearly half of a small-town Wisconsin police department has been on leave since a bar fight and the drunken shooting of a man’s groin, officials say.
The city of Mauston, a town of about 4,400 northwest of Madison, released details Tuesday about why four of 10 officers haven’t been on the job for over a month.
On Tuesday, Sgt. Michael Sturek was charged with felony recklessly endangering safety and misdemeanor offenses of operating a firearm while intoxicated and endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon, according to a news release.
In late August, Sturek was drinking with another man and consumed about 12 beers when they started looking at his guns, police say. Sturek, who said he’s a firearms instructor, removed a pistol from a safe and was “shocked” when it went off, police say.
He told an investigator he didn’t have his “booger picker on the bang switch” when the gun fired — jargon that means he didn’t have his finger on the trigger, according to the criminal complaint. The bullet pierced through the man’s groin and lodged in his thigh, which required surgery.
Sturek told an investigator he was attempting to clear the gun when it fired.
A city official declined to identify the person who was shot, but a news release says a second officer involved in the incident won’t be charged. An internal investigation is underway to determine whether the officers will keep their jobs.
Earlier in August, two different off-duty officers got in a fight with patrons at a local bar, officials said. That led to charges of disorderly conduct and battery against Officer Brian Raabe and administrative leave for another officer, the city said.
With the four officers on administrative leave for weeks, the police department has relied on neighboring agencies to provide help, the Juneau County Star-Times reported.