The police union president has highlighted the biting attack to call for stronger staffing levels in the MPD. The case also highlights how court backlogs caused by COVID policy decisions and low bail amounts are continuing to imperil public safety in Milwaukee.
Alonzo Northern III, the suspect accused of viciously biting understaffed Milwaukee police officers when they tried to arrest him for armed robbery, was out on low bail in two pending felony cases in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin Right Now has learned.
He was out on $350 cash bail in a felony false imprisonment case and a $1,500 signature bond turned into $250 cash bail when an electronic monitoring bracelet was not immediately available. The latter was for felony bail jumping charges. He remained in the community even though he had more than a dozen violations of pretrial release, court records show, as the Milwaukee County court system continues to disintegrate amidst historic violent crime increases.
And now the detectives have borne the brunt of these decisions, which mirror others that have happened over and over and over again as Milwaukee’s homicide rate skyrockets.
In a press release, Milwaukee Police Union Andrew F. Wagner gave details of the incident. On Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, “we bore witness to the critical officer shortage our city is facing,” he wrote. “Two of our detectives, while conducting follow up, observed a wanted robbery suspect. These detectives asked for assistance over the radio only to be told there was no available officers to send.”
Because the backlogged court system was unable to give Northern a trial date repeatedly, he remained on the streets free to re-offend in the 2021 cases. If he was convicted and sentenced more quickly, he would have been off the streets. This has been a repeated problem in Milwaukee County.
We received shocking photos of the bite wounds from the Milwaukee Police Association. They released the pictures to Wisconsin Right Now to show the public the dangers officers are facing due to staffing shortages and bail releases.
The police union’s president has highlighted the biting attack to call for stronger staffing levels in the MPD. The case also highlights how court backlogs caused by COVID policy decisions and jail staffing shortages are continuing to imperil public safety in Milwaukee.
“We are at an all-time low for staffing levels of police officers, and we cannot even receive help to bring a robbery suspect into custody when we call,” said MPA President Andrew Wagner. “If the police cannot protect ourselves, how are we to protect the community from these dangerous criminals?”
In 2021, Wisconsin Right Now reported that Milwaukee city leaders are systematically decimating the Milwaukee Police Department. We requested the number of sworn officers from MPD, and they showed that the force has decreased by hundreds of officers – nearly 18% – since 1995 (and 4.5% from 2019 to 2020). The number of sworn officers is the lowest in at least 25 years. It’s gotten even worse since then.
According to the criminal complaint, “Investigation revealed that Northern was on GPS monitoring as a result of his two open felony cases in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. GPS records place Alonzo Northern at the scene” of a gas station armed robbery.
In the first pending case, according to online court records, Northern was charged in Milwaukee County in April 2021 with felony false imprisonment and misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct.
Milwaukee County Court Commissioner Katryna Childs Rhodes set cash bail at $350 and ordered Northern not to possess firearms. We have written about Rhodes’ bail decisions before. Several times, in fact.
A couple days later, he failed to appear for court, so a warrant was issued, and there were several pretrial services status reports filed. In May, he showed up for a preliminary hearing so the warrant was vacated.
By June 2, 2021, there was a new criminal charge against him, according to another pretrial services report.
In August 2021, the court file says, “Defense is requesting a final pretrial and jury trial dates. There are no jury trial dates available at this time.” There were multiple other pretrial supervision violations.
A jury trial was finally set for February 14, 2022. In January 2022, there were more violation reports for new charges. The trial was rescheduled for May 2022. There were a dozen more pretrial monitoring violation reports filed with the court. The jury trial was adjourned again in May because the court was in another trial. There were more violation reports. The jury trial is now scheduled for October 2022.
Northern came back before Childs Rhodes again in May 2021 on the new felony bail jumping charges and unbelievably she gave him less bail – a $1,500 signature bond! That means he did not have to post any cash at all to get back out.
However, the court records state, “If electronic monitoring device is unavailable and cash bail has been paid, bail to revert to $250.00. If Alternative bail is paid, Defendant to be released and placed on Electronic Monitoring waiting list.” We have written before about the electronic monitoring waiting list backlog.
A month later, he posted $250 cash bail and was released. As with the other case, there were no jury trial dates available, and he had pretrial services violations.
After at least 10 violations of pretrial release, the court records say, “Case in court to address Justice Point GPS violations. Court admonished the defendant. State will request a bail motion if there is anymore GPS violations.” That was in March 2022. However, three more violation reports were filed, and nothing occurred (one is listed as a battery). On July 11, the case was in court for a trial. But the court had other trials so nothing occurred.
The officers “confronted the wanted suspect and he refused to comply with our detectives’ orders. Both detectives acted bravely to protect their community and take the suspect into custody,” Wagner wrote.
While attempting to take the suspect into custody, they were “bit several times by the suspect leaving lasting bite mark impressions around their body. This incident, like so many more victims of crime, can be prevented with proper staffing.”
“As the city reviews their budget process for next year, we hope that they consider both the safety of our officers and the community.”
Wagner said: “We ask our city leaders to restore police staffing levels to a level where we can do our sworn duty to prevent crime and unnecessary deaths in our community. I pray for our city leaders’ consideration in this budget process so they can realize that any thought of cutting our budget and not restoring it is dangerous to our community and cost our citizens’ their lives and well-being. I ask everyone to call their city leaders and demand that they make no more cuts to public safety budgets and to reinvest in the only thing proven to prevent crime (the police.)”
According to the complaint:
On December 11, 2021, victim SA reported her black Nissan Sentra stolen from behind her home along North 36th Street in Milwaukee.
On Wednesday, August 3, 2022, at approximately 9:04 p.m., Milwaukee Police were dispatched to the BP Gas Station at 5990 West Good Hope Road, City and County of Milwaukee, for an armed robbery. Upon arrival they spoke to, DS, the station manager, who reported his employee, KS was working alone at the time of the robbery.
“According to the victim, a black male, later positively identified as the above defendant, Alonzo Northern lll, walked into the store at approximately 3 p.m. on August 3, 2022. Northern made statements to KS to the effect that he was going to come in and steal whenever he wanted from the store,” the complaint says. “KS was unsure if Northern took any items at that time.”
At approximately 7:30 p.m., Northern “again entered the store and selected two Gatorades, three bags of chips, three air fresheners and demanded a pack of Swisher Sweet cigars from KS while pointing a firearm at him. Northern stated, ‘F*** you, Ima kill you! Come outside so I can shoot you!'” the complaint says.
“KS did not say anything to Northern and moved to the side when Northern placed the gun under the bulletproof window. KS gave the cigars to Northern and he left the store.”
He was wearing a GPS device on his ankle. He left the scene in the stolen car, according to the complaint. Surveillance video captured the incident.
On August 4, 2022, at approximately 11:11 a.m., Milwaukee Police detectives SH and JS, along with Milwaukee County District Attorney Officer of the Court SS, were at the BP station at 5990 West Good Hope Road, City and County of Milwaukee, to follow up on the Armed Robbery investigation.
“All three were wearing plain clothes with law enforcement badges and credentials visible and carrying duty weapons on their hips.”
While the detectives were inside the BP Gas Station, “the defendant pulled up in the stolen Nissan and entered the store. The clerk, TSG, who had already reviewed all the video surveillance from the robbery, immediately alerted the officers that Northern, who had just entered the store, was the armed robber from the incident,” the complaint said.
“SH, JS and SS all approached Northern and identified themselves as police officers. They informed Northern that he was being taken into custody for the robbery. Alonzo Northern III began to fight with the officers and they attempted to get him into handcuffs.”
The complaint continues, “In an attempt to avoid arrest, Northern bit, punched and kicked the officers causing pain and injury to all three, who were engaged in law enforcement duties at the time of their injuries.”
The complaint describes the injuries: “Northern bit victim SH on his right bicep, tearing the flesh from the area and causing extreme pain and disfigurement of the limb. SH reported that Northern bit him on the bicep and refused to release for approximately 30-60 seconds, despite the victim’s lawful command to stop biting.”
It adds, “Victim SH also suffered pain to his back and severe body pains as a result of the being punched and scratched by the defendant. Victim JS reported that he suffered bite marks to his neck and upper body that caused pain and broke the skin during the struggle with Northern. Northern bit JS on the left side of his neck twice, near his cheek.”
“The bite mark on his chest had some tearing of the skin. JS suffered pain to his back and severe body pain from being punched and scratched by Northern, despite issuing lawful commands to Northern to stop. Victim JS related that at one point Northern was attempting to bite him on his face and he told Northern that he would shoot him if he bit him in the eye. JS described these actions as deliberate attempts to get JS to release him stating Northern would bite him then demand to be released, then bite him again when JS did not let go of him.”
Victim SS “suffered back pain and severe body pains as well. SS had scratches all over his body and pain to the top of his head, where Northern intentionally struck him approximately six times with a closed fist. Victim SS stated that at one point he had Northern’s legs wrapped up to try to gain control of him.”
At one point, “Northern freed one of his legs and ‘mule’ kicked Officer SS in the face, causing his glasses from his face and his nose to bleed,” the complaint added.
The fight lasted approximately 6-7 minutes, until a citizen entered the store and helped the officers get Northern under control.
A witness described the scene, saying, according to the complaint, “TSG stated that Northern pushed the officers and attempted to leave but the officers were able to grab him. Northern started fighting with the police and they all fell to the floor. He could hear the officers yelling for Northern to stop resisting and put his hands behind his back, but the fight continued. This lasted for several minutes until a citizen entered and helped hold down the suspect so they could handcuff him. After the incident, he observed that the detectives were injured and bleeding, with torn clothing.”
The citizen said that “he observed Northern on top of victim JS trying to bite his face. Victim JS told Northern that he would shoot him if he bit his face. He observed victim SS had Northern’s legs wrapped up and victim SH was on the other side with a large bite visible on his bicep. DF grabbed Northern’s arm and placed it behind his back, allowing the detectives to finally handcuff him. DF further noted that the detectives showed a lot of restraint and he did not see any of them strike Northern at any point and that they remained professional after Northern was handcuffed.”
Police found a gun in the trunk of the stolen car, the complaint says.