Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Committee Approves $50,000 Settlement For Child Left In Towed Vehicle

2018 incident involving intoxicated mother mishandled by police and city sued.

By - Nov 16th, 2022 12:46 pm
Milwaukee Police Department officer pulls over a vehicle in Bay View. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

File photo of Milwaukee Police Department officer pulling over a vehicle in Bay View. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The City of Milwaukee is poised to spend $50,000 for a legal settlement stemming from a 2018 incident where a four-year-old child was left in the back of a vehicle towed to the city’s vehicle impound lot. The child spent more than seven hours in the lot before she was discovered “very upset and crying.”

On Nov. 12, 2018, the Milwaukee Police Department took the child’s mother, Blair Springfield, into custody after police found her passed out in a minivan. She was issued two citations for operating while intoxicated.

“I understand and I recognize that there is culpability on the city’s part, but this mom, clearly she was incapacitated, that’s why she was pulled over, she did not inform any of our people,” said Alderman Mark Borkowski on Monday at a meeting of the Judiciary & Legislation Committee.

“That’s actually disputed on the body [camera footage],” said assistant city attorney Stacy Miller. Police encountered the van, which was out of gas, as a result of a call from a county bus driver. Another adult passenger, holding Springfield’s 10-month-old baby, had gotten on the bus to stay warm. There were no car seats in the minivan.

Borkowski said he would oppose the settlement.

“The child did go to the hospital after and–” said Miller, before she was cut off by her boss, deputy city attorney Robin A. Pederson.

“You won,” said Ald. Robert Bauman to Miller, meaning that a majority of the committee supported the settlement after discussing the case in closed-session, so there was no need to continue arguing the issue.

The committee recommended the city pay the settlement, with only Borkowski voting no. The full council will review the settlement on Nov. 22.

Vehicles, according to MPD’s standard operating procedure, are to be thoroughly searched before they are towed. The vehicle is then to be inspected again, from the exterior, by a Department of Public Works tow lot employee.

The settlement would resolve a federal lawsuit filed in 2021. The child and her unidentified guardian are represented by attorney Mark Thomsen.

Springfield was sentenced to 10 months in the House of Correction for the incident.

Two police officers, Fabian Garcia and James P. Collins were suspended as a result of the incident. Collins was the officer who stepped on Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown‘s leg in his 2018 arrest. Thomsen represented the basketball player in securing a $750,000 settlement, policy changes and a public apology.

Categories: City Hall, Weekly

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