Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne filed charges against Mark Wagner, an officer involved in the shooting of Quadren Wilson, on Sept. 22. Wagner was one of two officers that fired their guns into Wilson’s vehicle.
The other officer, Nathan Peskie, has not been charged. Peskie told investigators that he shot three to five rounds at Wilson.
Division of Criminal Investigation special agents Wagner and Peskie shot Wilson, a Black man, five times in the back on Feb. 3, 2022.
The charges filed against Wagner are second-degree recklessly endangering safety at Class G felony severity, with a modifier of use of a dangerous weapon.
To convict this crime, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant endangered the safety of another human being and did so through criminally reckless conduct, University of Wisconsin Law School professor Keith Findley said in an email statement to The Badger Herald.
Criminally reckless conduct in Wisconsin law means the conduct created a risk of death or great bodily harm to another person. The risks must have been unreasonable and substantial. The defendant also must have been aware that their conduct created the risks of harm, Findley said.
The use of a dangerous weapon by Officer Wagner increases the consequences of the charges — Class G felonies carry maximum imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of no more than $25,000.
State statute requires that criminal investigations be undertaken by an independent law enforcement body — usually, this means the DCI investigates police shootings. But because a DCI agent was involved, they are not a part of this investigation, Findley said.
“The purpose of this law is to ensure that criminal investigations into police shootings are conducted in a neutral and unbiased way — that is, to make sure that police agencies are not conducting the investigations into their own potential misconduct, which would create an inherent bias or conflict of interest,” Findley said.
As a result, the Dane County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation, Findley said.
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Findley said there is no way of assessing the likelihood of conviction.
“Convictions of police officers for shootings [are] exceedingly rare,” Findley said.
More investigations may take place within the Madison Police Department and DCI to see if any of their policies were violated. These investigations will not result in criminal sanctions, Findley said.