Wisconsin Right Now was the only media outlet to request the Milwaukee police body cam videos showing the arrest of Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson’s brother for allegedly shooting a man in the head. They show the mayor’s mother discussing defusing an “incident” with another son the night before. She didn’t name him.
Milwaukee Police body camera videos and a search warrant affidavit obtained by Wisconsin Right Now regarding the arrest of Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson’s brother Allen Addison reveal for the first time that police believed Addison was holed up inside the N. 41st St. home with the mayor’s aunt and uncle during a two-hour standoff. They also show that Milwaukee police believed they had probable cause to search the home for a gun, ammunition, and “personal identifiers of residents of the residence,” but the office of Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm refused to approve the request.
“While police officers and detectives attempted to gain entry to this residence, the occupants are refusing to answer to (sic) door. There is a good chance of recovering evidence as it pertains to this offense upon entry to the residence,” the MPD search warrant affidavit, obtained by WRN through an open records request, reads.
Because the DA’s office wouldn’t sign off on the warrant, the home was not searched after Addison eventually came out following a two-hour standoff with the mayor’s mother screaming periodically on the sidewalk outside. That’s even though harboring a wanted person can be a crime. The search could have helped establish how long Addison was staying at the home, whether the other family members knew he was wanted, whether they were in fact inside the house, and whether there was evidence of the shooting.
The fact that police suspected multiple members of the mayor’s family were with Addison inside the hide-out has not been reported by the media; nor has the existence of the search warrant. An officer says in one body cam video, referring to the mayor’s mother: “Her brother is in the lower with her son. Her sister is in the upper, and none of them are answering their phones.” The home had a “Cavalier Johnson” for mayor sign planted prominently in its front yard.
The Milwaukee Police body camera videos, also obtained by Wisconsin Right Now through an open records request, capture the mayor’s mother, Denise Hardwick-Townsend, repeatedly refusing officers’ orders at the scene and using the F word. She repeatedly makes telephone calls in the videos. Although it’s not clear to whom, officers do make it clear that she had been trying to call the people inside the residence, but they weren’t answering.
“You’re going to shoot my f*cking son,” she tells an officer on video.
“No, that’s not going to happen,” he says, asking which car is hers. “You always say that sh*t,” she responds.
However, the videos show that Milwaukee police officers handled the entire situation with great professionalism and restraint, giving Addison instructions on how to remain safe when he came out of the house and even trying to make sure his handcuffs were not too tight.
At one point, an officer tells the mother of Milwaukee’s mayor, who is a close political ally to the DA and police chief, “It might have taken them awhile to find your number. It’s not like we just have it, you know.”
That’s when Hardwick-Townsend says, “I mean, we just had an incident last night where I had to go to my other son’s house and defuse an incident, so I believe that’s why they called me now.” She didn’t name him. Social media posts show Hardwick-Townsend has two other sons in addition to Johnson and Addison, who are half brothers with the same mom.
The two-hour standoff, which started with officers knocking in vain and escalated to a SWAT team with a loudspeaker, occurred several days before the mayoral election, which Johnson, already Acting Mayor, won. Johnson’s spokesman previously told Wisconsin Right Now that Johnson was unaware that his brother had been wanted for two months for a shooting. He also said Johnson was not aware until the next day that his brother was arrested or that the standoff had occurred, finding out through a social media post they would not identify.
In other words, the mayor wants you to believe that he was entirely unaware of the scene unfolding in the videos until the next day even though police believed his mother, brother, aunt, uncle, and a relative who showed up with a key, were there. Other than WRN and talk radio, the media have shown pretty much zero interest in checking that rhetoric.
“The mayor had no knowledge of the shooting, the warrant, or the arrest before a social media post on Wednesday,” Johnson’s spokesman, Jeff Fleming, told Wisconsin Right Now, not answering a question that queried about which one. The standoff was on Tuesday.
Asked whether he believes it’s true that Cavalier Johnson didn’t know his brother was wanted for a shooting, the victim, Eddie Knox, expressed doubt, telling Wisconsin Right Now that the news quickly “ran through the family.”
The Milwaukee Police body camera videos answer some questions but leave others unanswered if you believe the mayor’s account anyway – namely: Why didn’t MPD ask Johnson to help them find his brother? Why didn’t they release the suspect information to TV and other media when Addison was charged in January to help find him? Why didn’t they ask him to help them get Addison out of the house safely on March 29?
Allen Addison Search Warrant
The rejected search warrant affidavit contains the following “probable cause” statement from Milwaukee police officers hoping to search the residence. It alleges,
The registration of the truck used in the Jan. 4, 2022, shooting listed to Addison. A witness of the shooting identified Addison as the truck’s driver during the drive-by shooting. The Milwaukee County DA’s office issued a warrant for Addison on Jan. 19, 2022, for 1st degree recklessly endangering safety and possession of a firearm-convicted felon.
On March 29, 2022, at 3:26 p.m., Milwaukee police went to the home at 2313 N. 41st St. to locate Addison. Through historical records, they determined it was the address of Allen Addison’s uncle, according to the affidavit.
It says that officers knocked and observed Addison at the residence, but he did not immediately come out. He was observed in the house while officers tried to get him to come out.
He was taken into custody at 5:38 p.m., over two hours after officers began knocking on the residence door, the affidavit says.
The owner of the lower and upper flats in the house spoke to officers and indicated who lived in the units. The names are redacted from the affidavit.
It says that the owner indicated to officers that ____ lives in the lower unit of 2313 and his sister _____ (the sister of _____) lives in the upper unit with her husband.
The officers believed that Addison had access to the basement, lower and upper units of the flat because the upper unit was his “aunt’s residence.”
According to the affidavit, police believed that Addison did occupy and have access to properties at 2313 N. 41st St. and 2315 N. 41st St., which are a duplex. [Wisconsin Right Now went to the house after the arrest and attempted to get the side of the people who live there, but an elderly woman who answered the door grew irate and slammed the door.]
The affidavit says that police were aware that a search warrant may be issued when an application establishes probable cause to believe that evidence connected with a crime will be found at the place to be searched and that probable cause supporting a search warrant is determined by the “totality of the circumstances.”
In the video, an officer asks, “Did the warrant get signed?” but another officer tells him it was just a “body warrant.” However, the affidavit we obtained shows police sought a search warrant for the house as well.
The warrant was complained by Police Officer Peter Houser, who wrote in it that the police wanted to search the residence for:
A black 9mm semi-automatic firearm
Shell casings, ammunition or any other related items to firearm or firearm-related accessories
Personal identifiers of residents of the residence
They wanted to see if they were used in the commission of or may constitute evidence of first-degree recklessly endangering safety or felon in possession of a firearm. The section where the warrant needed to be “reviewed and approved by a Milwaukee County assistant district attorney” is blank. Although judges authorize search warrants, practically speaking MPD doesn’t take warrants to them if the DA’s office won’t sign off on them because the DA needs to use the evidence in court.
Kent Lovern, the spokesman for Chisholm and his chief deputy district attorney, told Wisconsin Right Now:
“MPD consulted with an experienced assistant district attorney, who has personally reviewed over 1,000 search warrants with law enforcement officers, and in the collaborative process that generally occurs with a search warrant review, the prosecutor provided feedback regarding the lack of sufficient evidence connecting the premises on 41st Street to Addison himself and to the charged criminal offenses against him from over two months earlier. After further discussion, the MPD investigator and the prosecutor mutually agreed to not pursue the search warrant. Neither John Chisholm nor the assistant district attorney who consulted with MPD about the search warrant were aware of the relationship between Allen Addison and Cavalier Johnson until after the media reported it late last week.”
The Search Warrant Affidavit
Milwaukee Police Body Camera Videos
There are multiple Milwaukee Police body camera videos. In one, officers speak to a man who gives his name as Theo Hardwick and has a key to the house. Hardwick is the maiden name of Johnson’s and Addison’s mom.
The officer tells Hardwick, “Okay, sir, so here’s the thing. I talked to my sergeant. They still want to do the warrant. We can’t just have you let us in there.”
Hardwick says he got another man to cover his shift. “They’re writing up the warrant right now, trying to get it approved by the DA and the judge, but if you have the key, you want to allow us in, you can do it that way, so no one has to breach your door,” the officer says.
Hardwick says he will remain at the scene in his car.
The mayor’s mother appears in other videos.
“You can’t go past me, okay, you can’t go past me, okay?” an officer tells her.
“Why?” she said.
“Because I said so. Right now, that’s the SWAT team,” says an officer.
“Okay, so why did you guys call me?” she asks.
The officer said they wanted to figure out an “opportunity for you to talk to your son, but we can’t have you go up to the door, okay, but if they’re not answering the phone, I didn’t talk to you originally, we can try to get on a loudspeaker and have him call out to you.”
“That’s stupid,” Hardwick-Townsend said.
She continued talking off camera. You can’t hear everything she is saying.
Police sources previously told us that she had mentioned her other son was the mayor at the scene. However, the videos do not confirm nor deny this. They do not show that statement, but, at multiple points, she speaks to officers off-camera in a muffled tone, and you can’t make out what she is saying. We had asked Johnson’s spokesman about this claim before, and he did not respond.
In another Milwaukee Police body camera video, police tell her they know Addison is in the house, and there is a warrant for his arrest. He was not coming to the door, even though they had seen him in the house. “We’ve been out here for awhile,” an officer tells Hardwick-Townsend.
“If you’ve been here for awhile, why did no one call me earlier?” she asked.
The officer said, “It might have taken awhile to find your number. It’s not like we just have it, you know.”
That’s when she says the comment about the earlier incident.
The officer says he was not the one who called her.
She told another officer she had not had contact with her son but had been calling. “How about your brother?” he asks.
“I’ve been calling. I’ve been calling my brother and sister,” she said. “My sister is upstairs.”
Police told her they would write a warrant for the house unless they came out.
“It’s no secret,” she said.
You can’t hear everything she says as the conversation moves off-screen.
In another video, you see the mother with another man whose identity is unknown. She has a phone out and is talking, but there is no audio at first. The phone blares, “please leave your message for” and then cuts off.
“Ma’am, can we walk this way, please,” an officer says.
“No, I’m good,” she retorts.
He says it’s cold, “you don’t need to be standing out here,” and she can continue trying to contact Addison on her phone. She did not respond to the officer and instead walked away with her phone out. The phone blares, “414 998 6-” and then cuts off.
It blares, “Please leave your message.”
Hardwick-Townsend brought up a warrant. The officer says, “We’re working on it, okay? Have a seat in your car, and we will come and get you. You can’t stand in front of the house.”
She calls another number with a 262 area code, but you can’t hear the rest of the number.
An officer indicates that “all their phones are off” and says that once police “get a means to communicate with them,” they will come get her, asking which car is hers.
That’s when she brought up that they might shoot Addison.
She indicates, “I’m not going anywhere.” The officer asks her to stand by a Pontiac, saying, “I can’t have you walking in front of the house.”
She says, “What the f*ck you calling me for, man? What the f*ck you calling me for?”
She adds, “I was told to come up here to the scene to see if I can get my son to come out, I wasn’t told come up here and stand in my f*cking car.”
The officer says he knows she is frustrated but repeats, “I can’t have you sit here and walk in front of the house.”
“Well, I don’t want you to shoot my son, either,” she says, the second time she has brought up that topic.
“That’s not going to happen ma’am,” he says.
“So you say. You ain’t going to make no difference,” she says.
At that point, officers approach an unidentified man and ask if he is with Hardwick-Townsend. He says, “I don’t want to get involved.”
Another video shows Addison in handcuffs. He is walked to the squad and is silent but cooperative.
Yet another video shows the moments before that arrest. Officers are on a loudspeaker, and the mom is across the street, periodically screaming. The SWAT team has arrived.
She says “f*cking son,” but it’s not clear what else she said.
“Allen Addison, come to the front door with your hands up,” police say over the loudspeaker.
The mom screams, “What the f*ck Allen.” And “come outside.”
Police say over the loudspeaker, “No one’s going to get hurt here tonight. Your mom’s here. She wants you to come outside.”
They tell Hardwick-Townsend, “Ma’am, you have to back up.”
Officers say over the loudspeaker that Addison should listen to officers’ commands when he comes out for his own safety. They say, “All your family is out here. We don’t want anybody to get hurt tonight.” [There is no evidence that Johnson was at the scene, though.]
“Your family’s out here and wants to see you,” officers say again.
Addison then comes out the door a few moments later.