A Wisconsin man has filed a federal lawsuit after he was handcuffed and detained while moving into his new home when one of his neighbors called police.
In his suit, filed on Monday in US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Keonte Furdge, 23, who is black, named the city of Monona and two officers, Jared Wedig and Luke Wunsch.
On June 2, officers, who arrived while Furdge and a friend were moving in, said they received a call from a neighbor, who was suspicious that the men were on the porch.
Furdge was placed in handcuffs and, after police learned he was living in the home with permission from the former owner’s son, he was released and allegedly told: ‘Sorry to ruffle your feathers this morning,’ and that the incident had been a ‘misunderstanding.’
‘This lawsuit seeks to establish that this was more than a misunderstanding,’ the complaint states.
‘It seeks to vindicate the violation of Keonte Furdge’s constitutional rights.’
Keonte Furdge, 23, of Monona, Wisconsin, has filed a federal lawsuit after he was handcuffed by police and held at gunpoint while moving into his new home (pictured)
Furdge and his friend, Toren Young, were moving into the home on June 2. The house belongs to their high school football coach’s late mother, and he gave them permission to stay there. Pictured: Furdge being handcuffed in his home
A female neighbor, who didn’t know about the arrangement ,called a non-emergency line at 11am to report a suspicious man sitting on the front porch. Pictured: Furdge (center) and two teammates of Monona Grove High School Football Team
Furdge and his friend, Toren Young, had just moved into the house of their high school football coach’s mother in Monona, which is 77 miles west of Milwaukee and a mostly white suburb.
The elderly woman had recently passed away, and the coach told the pair they could live in the home for two months.
On move-in day, a female neighbor, unaware of the arrangement, called a non-emergency line at 11am to report a suspicious man at her neighbor’s home.
‘My neighbor…passed away, the house is empty, and now there is an African-American with sweatpants…and a white shirt sitting on the front door,’ according to released audio of the call.
Police say, when they arrived, they knocked on the door and announced their presence, but no one came to greet them.
After they heard voices inside, they believed a burglary was occurring and entered the home with their guns drawn.
Furdge contests this in his complaint, stating Wedig and Wunsch did not knock nor ring the doorbell before entering.
Bodycam footage from Wedig corroborates Furdge’s account, although he did say: ‘Police department! Is anyone here?’
Once inside the house, Wedig shouted: ‘Police department, come out with your hands up!’
That’s when Furdge entered the living room and his arms were handcuffed behind his back for one minute.
When officers arrived, they pointed guns at Furdge and handcuffed him, believing he was robbing the house. Pictured: Officers pointing guns at Furdge
The officers were able to reach the late owner’s son – the former high school football coach – who confirmed Furdge was allowed to be there. Pictured: Furdge speaking to officers
Furdge (left, on left; and right, on left) filed a lawsuit on Monday in federal court. He is seeking unspecified damages over claims of unlawful entry, false arrest and detention, excessive force and failure to intervene
‘I was definitely afraid for my life,’ Furdge told Madison365.com.
‘They was like: “Are you allowed to be here?” I was like: “Yes, my coach is allowing me and another friend to stay here.” And he was like: “Well, we got a suspicious call saying that people was on the property, and the lady that lived here was deceased.”
Furdge (pictured) is seeking unspecified damages for bodily injury, pain, suffering, mental distress, humiliation, loss of liberty and related expenses
‘I was like: “Well, my coach knows that me and my friend are staying here.” And my hands are still up. The guns are still pointing at me for some reason. They still … They didn’t put the guns down.’
The officers were able to reach the late owner’s son – the former high school football coach – who confirmed Furdge was allowed to be there.
His friend, Young, was not present for the incident.
As they were leaving, Wedig said he would tell other neighbors Furdge and his friend were allowed to live at the house, ‘so this crap doesn’t happen again.’
Wunsch apologized and said he recognized Furdge from his high school football days.
‘I am glad it was you and I recognized you versus somebody who I didn’t know, but, ah, that is still not, nobody wants that interaction,’ Wunsch said.
The suit lists four counts including unlawful entry; false arrest and detention; excessive force and failure to intervene; and to hold the city liable for the officers’ actions.
Furdge is seeking unspecified damages for bodily injury, pain, suffering, mental distress, humiliation, loss of liberty and related expenses.
“It seeks to effect change through punitive damages by punishing the Defendants for their egregious conduct with the hope that the punishment is significant enough to prevent this from happening again in the future, so that a person can move into a formerly vacant house in the City of Monona and sit on his front porch without having to fear that the police will break in and shoot him,’ the lawsuit states.