Dec. 19 (UPI) — A judge has ruled in favor of reinstating Milwaukee’s police chief, who was removed from his role in August.
Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Christopher Foley ruled Friday to reverse the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission’s decision to demote then-police chief Alfonso Morales.
Morales was demoted to captain in August, with commissioners accusing him of “unbecoming” conduct as well as “ethical lapses and flawed decisions.” He had served in the role for less than a year.
He retired shortly after his demotion, then sued and asked for a judicial review.
Foley’s ruling condemns the commission’s process as “flawed” and said the commission did not follow its own requirements for removing the chief.
The judge did not offer further instructions on how the city should proceed.
“I acknowledge that from the City’s perspective there is great benefit in remand with directions,” Foley wrote. “Remand continues the status quo as of the conclusion of the Commission hearing with Mr. Morales demoted to captain and appealing that demotion. It avoids the potential, noted in media accounts, of ‘two chiefs.'”
Frank Gimbel, Morales’ attorney, said the ruling was a clear win.
“The decision of the court demonstrates that there was no basis for the Fire and Police Commission to take the action that they did in the manner that they did,” Gimbel said.
Gimbel said it’s up to Morales what happens next, with the two likely options being that he returns to his role or that he negotiates a financial settlement.
On Thursday, the commission hired Jeffrey Norman as Milwaukee’s new police chief, because acting chief Michael Brunson, Sr., who has served since Morales’ demotion, is retiring Wednesday.